• Who to watch in 2014: John G. Daniel

    John G. Daniel , 56

    Executive director Boys Hope Girls Hope Baton Rouge and President/founder JGDProductions and Daniel Karate Group

    Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

    2013 Accomplishments: Executive Director, Boys Hope Girls Hope, JohnG.Daniel Productions–Opening A Black History Time Capsule with Tony Brown, Unity Day/Daniel Karate Group Events e.g.Unity Day Exxon Mobil YMCA 2013, The Advocate Video, “John Daniel, A Sensei,Teaching with A Purpose”

    What to expect in 2014: Residential girls service, Boys Hope GirlsHope, one-hour documentary on the elements of life success; UnityDay; and Daniel Karate Group expansion to Los Angeles and Philadelphia Personal Resolution for 2014: Keep moving forward!

    Business resolution for 2014: Reach out to more youth and families

    Life/business motto: Struggle, Perseverance, Character and Hope What are you listening to? Marvin Gaye’s ”What’s Going On”, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”, and McFadden & Whitehead

    What are you reading?  The Book of Five RingsGo Rin No Sho, by Miyamoto Musashi



    Read more »
  • Who to watch in 2014: Michael McClanahan

    President,  NAACP Baton Rouge Branch

    Hometown: Zwolle

    2013 Accomplishments: Became president of the Baton Rouge Branch of the NAACP, took the fight for equality and inclusion for all and especially Blacks to the streets. We marched and file a suit against Turner Industries; supported a suit against City Court; and openly spoke out against discrimination at the State Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

    What to expect in 2014: NAACP taking an active role in the educational system and the direction it is headed; taking an active role in the breaking up of the City and annexation of other parts; ensuring the consent decree of the BR police department are fully implemented and shine a spot light on evil and wickedness in and around the Greater Baton Rouge area and hold those accountable who choose to practice and uphold it.

    Personal resolution for 2014: live healthier; do more evangelizing

    Life motto: “If I can help someone as I pass this way through word, thought or deed then my living won’t be in vain.”–Dorothy Clay

    What are you listening to? Richard Smallwood

    Read more »
  • Mistrial declared on murder charge in Jordan Davis case

    Jurors found Michael Dunn guilty of attempted murder and one other charge , but declared a mistrial on the most-serious charge, first-degree murder, in the fatal shooting of 17 year-old Jordan Davis.

    Dunn was charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis in 2012 after an argument over loud music coming from the SUV occupied by Davis and three friends outside a Jacksonville convenience store.

    12 jurors found Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and a count of firing into an occupied car after 4 days of deliberations on Saturday February 15th.

    Jurors heard testimony that Dunn, a 47-year-old software developer, who has a concealed weapons permit, fired 10 shots, hitting the vehicle nine times. Davis was the only person hit.

    Michael Dunn was convicted of attempted murder for shooting a into a car full of teenagers, but jurors were unable to agree on the most serious charge of first-degree murder. A mistrial was declared on first-degree murder charge.

    Each attempted second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while the fourth charge he was convicted on carries a maximum of 15. A sentencing date will be set in the future.

    Race relation overtones and its connection to gun and self-defense laws have made it comparable to George Zimmerman’s case, the neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in Florida.

    Davis’ 19th birthday would have been Today. Prosecutors may attempt retry a Dunn the on first-degree murder charges.


    Read more »
  • Who to watch in 2014: David Gray

     Age: 25

    State policy fellow and policy analyst at the Louisiana Budget Project

    Hometown: New Orleans

    2013Accomplishments: Coordinated the Louisiana Coalition for Responsible Lending, which is a group of citizens, faith-based organizations, non-profi ts and banks that are dedicated to protecting families from predatory payday loans;. produced fact-based research that helped defeat a bill from Gov. Bobby Jindal that would have raised taxes on low and middle-class families; and appointed to the East Baton Rouge Parish Food Access Policy Commission by Mayor-President Kip Holden.

    What to expect in 2014: Launch of a statewide network of community advocates dedicated to protecting the economic interest of the millennial generation and creation of loan products that offer families’ short-term credit at responsible interest rates and fees. Personal Resolution for 2014: Carve out time each day to grow mentally, physically and spiritually.

    Business resolution for 2014: Continue to provide sound research and analysis of state fiscal issues to promote economic prosperity, a rising standard of living, and the opportunity for all citizens to reach their highest potential.

    Life motto: “Give to the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you.” — my late grandmother, Isabella Gasper.

    What are you listening to? A mix of Israel & New Breed, Gregory Porter, Maxwell, J. Cole, Trombone Shorty, Maze & Frankie Beverley, Luther Vandross, Drake, The Fugees, Nina Simone, and Wale.

     What are you reading? The BibleLife Entrepreneurs by Gergen and Vanourek, and 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup;  Something Like the Truth blog by Bob Mann, Louisiana Voice blog by Tim Aswell


    Read more »
  • Who to Watch in 2014: Dr. Rani Whitfield

    Dr. Rani Whitfield,44

    Board Certified Family Practice Physician, FAAFP, CAQ in Sports Medicine

    Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA

    2013 Accomplishments: Received YMCA Legions Award; discussed the Affordable Care Act on several MSNBC TV, including The Ed Show, Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation; Disrupt with Karen Finney, and Melissa Harris Perry show; featured in the documentary “Soul Food Junkies” by Byron Hurt; served as medical director for the National Association of Free Clinics-Communities Are Responding Everywhere (C.A.R.E.) Clinic in New Orleans where more than 900 individuals without access to affordable, quality healthcare treated by volunteers; released “Get On Tha Bus”, a music project and collaboration with artist Love-N-Pain; featured guest on LPB’s The State We’re In with a  monthly segment “Prescription for Health” that addresses health issues and health disparities.

    What to expect in 2014: Shhhh, it’s a secret, but let’s just say it could be a very good year.

    Personal resolution for 2014: 2014 will be bigger and better both personally and professionally. However, I don’t place a lot of stock in New Year’s resolutions. I set goals and work towards them. I choose to live by making decisions every single day. I do not wait for the year to end in order to make them.

    Business resolution for 2014: Better communication and delegating of task .With all the changes in medicine lately, it’s fast and furious—organized chaos. In 2014, I  need to make sure everyone is on the same page. We’ll do this by ensuring everyone in the practice feels motivated towards the same business goals, participates in setting goals, and takes accountability for their department.

    Life motto: “All things are possible to him who believes!”

    What are you listening to: Ian Von’s “Love, Beats, and Guitars”; Dee-1’s “Psalms of David II”; Odissee’s “Tangible Dream”; Taurus RiBoard Certified Family Practice Physician, FAAFP, CAQ in Sports Medicine



    Read more »
  • Nearly half Black men arrested by age 23

    Nearly 50 percent of Black men and 40 percent of white men are arrested at least once on non-traffic-related crimes by the time they turn 23, according to a new study published in the January 2104 issue of the journal “Crime & Delinquency”.

    The peer-reviewed estimates didn’t rely on arrest records but instead on an annual federal Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of about 7,000 young people who answered questions each year from 1997 to 2008 on a range of issues — including if they had ever been taken into custody for something other than a traffic offense.

    Self-reported crimes ranged from underage drinking to violent assaults.

    The authors found that by age 18, 30 percent of Black men, 26 percent of Hispanic men and 22 percent of white men have been arrested.

    By 23, those numbers climb to 49 percent for Black men, 44 percent for Hispanic men and 38 percent for white men.

    Among women, 20 percent of Blacks, 18 percent of whites and 16 percent of Hispanics were arrested at least once by age 23.

    Read more »
  • Southern Board will meet Feb. 24 to discuss Llorens’ contract

    Southern University Board of Supervisors has  confirmed a date for the special board meeting at Southern to discuss Chancellor James Llorens’ contract.

    The board will meet on Feb. 24 at 1:30 p.m. at the administration building.

    Student Government Association President , and board member,  Simone Bray  requested the meeting following a student  sit-in at President Ronald Mason’s office on Tuesday February, 12th

    The  board voted last Friday to not renew Lloren’s contract.

    When news spread on campus of the board’s decision  the students immediately began campaigning to keep their chancellor.

    During the past week students showed support for Llorens by setting up a Facebook page and holding a meeting that drew hundreds to voice their concerns.

    In anticipation of the meeting the SGA  has handed out more than 100 T-shirts in support of the chancellor on Thursday, Feb. 13.

    They plan to wear them to Southern’s basketball game Monday night and to the special meeting.


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  • Police seek community help finding missing teens,16, and infant


    Tangipahoa  Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards  is asking for your assistance in locating three runaway teens.

    Briannica Foster, 16, and her infant son Jordan Foster, 9 months were last seen on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. Briannica Foster ran away from her Tangipahoa home and took Jordon with her. Kiana Robertson, 16, of Independence, and Aquaila Singleton, 16, of Independence, have both been missing since December 2013. Robertson and Singleton are believed to be together in the Baton Rouge area. Singleton is also known as Bird and Aquaila Mosley. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of these teens or the infant is asked to please contact sheriff’s office at (985) 902-2014 .missing teen mom and son



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  • Who to watch in 2014: Keith Richard


    Occupation: Lead Pastor at Elevate Church

    Hometown: Baton Rouge

    2013 Accomplishments: Received MLK Leadership Award

    What to expect in 2014: Strategizing for the opening of a homeless shelter and resource center

    Personal resolution for 2014: To be a better vessel to be used for the glory of God

    Business resolution for 2014: No clichés or catch phrases…Just Action.

    Life motto: Loving God deeply, makes loving people easy What are you listening to? Jazz

    What are you reading? Apostolic Fathers by Apostle Burnell Williams

    Read more »
  • Who to watch in 2014: Erin R. Wheeler, PH.D


    Occupation:Owner and chief higher education consultant for E_Source Learning Solutions, LLC

    Hometown: Amite, LA

    2013 Accomplishments: Delivering higher education presentations at national conferences across the country.

    What to expect in 2014: Broader impact of E_Source Learning Solutions on the educational success of students in the tri-parish area.

    Personal Resolution for 2014: To dream big and ignore the limits.

    Business resolution for 2014: Collaborate with other emerging businesses to help them reach their goals. Do for others what you want to happen for yourself.

    Life: “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others strength; mastering yourself is true power.” –Lao Tzu

    What are you listening to? Electric Lady by Janelle Monae

    What are you reading? Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

    Read more »
  • Remembering the life, legacy of Amiri Baraka

    Prolific poet, playwright, essayist, and critic Amiri Baraka, one of the literary giants of the 20th century was called home.

    As we offer condolences to his wife, children and family, we remember the 79 year-old Baraka not only for his bold, inventive and iconoclastic literary voice, but also as a courageous social justice activist.  His ideas and work had a powerful impact on both the Black Arts and Civil Rights movements beginning in the 1960s.

    Baraka was best known for his eclectic writings on race and class.  He extended many of the themes and ideals of the 1960s Black Power movement into the realm of art, which he saw as a potent weapon of change; and like many good revolutionary artists, he sometimes went out of his way to offend the status quo.  He has been variously described as a beatnik, a Black nationalist and a Marxist.  But he was first and foremost a writer and social commentator of uncommon skill and insight.

    His 1963 masterpiece, “Blues People,” which explored the historical roots and sociological significance of the blues and jazz, has become a classic that is still taught in college classrooms today.  Almost every Black and progressive writer and thinker of the 20th century shared a kinship, friendship or feud with Baraka.  But, undergirding everything he wrote and stood for was his desire to lift up the downtrodden and disenfranchised, especially in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.

    As a testament to his broad influence, more than 3,000 people attended his funeral last Saturday at Newark Symphony Hall.  The actor Danny Glover officiated and noted Baraka’s influence on his career.  Cornel West called Baraka “a literary genius.” Sonia Sanchez read a poem for him written by Maya Angelou. Speaking at the wake the night before, Jesse Jackson honored Baraka as “a creative activist and change agent who never stopped fighting or working for the formula to create social justice.”

    Born Everett LeRoi Jones, the writer changed his name to Amiri Baraka in 1968 to refl ect his embrace of Islam and the philosophy of Malcolm X.  He attended Rutgers, Howard and Co- lumbia, served in the Air Force and began his literary career in the 1950s in the Beat poet scene of New York’s Greenwich Village.  His one-act play, “Dutchman,” won the Obie Award as the best off-Broadway production of 1964.  In 1965, he co-founded the Black Arts Movement in Harlem, infusing the Black Power movement with powerful artistic voices.  His numerous awards and honors include his selection as the Poet Laureate of New Jersey in 2002 and his 1995 induction into the exclusive American Academy of Arts and Letters.

    Controversy was a mainstay of Amiri Baraka’s career.  Ishmael Reed, another provocative poet and contemporary of Baraka recently noted, “

    Amiri Baraka was controversial because his was a perspective that was considered out of fashion during this post race ghost dance, the attitude that says that because we have a Black president, racism is no longer an issue, when the acrimonious near psychotic reaction to [Barack Obama’s] election only shows the depth of it.”   Amiri Baraka always challenged us to face such uncom- fortable truths – and we are better because of it.

    Amiri Baraka passed away on Tuesday, January 9th.



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  • Grants available to small, minority businesses

    HUNDREDS OF BLACK AND MINORITY- owned businesses each year receive such grant funding from various government agencies and non-profit organizations. Such funds do not have to be repaid, but must be used to either start a new business or enhance an existing one. Others can be used for innovation research. Here are the top small and minority business grant programs available:

    #1 – The FedEx Small Business

    Grant Contest is a nationwide com- petition that will award $50,000 in total to six deserving U.S-based entrepreneurs and business owners. Learn more at www.business- grants.org/opportunities/fedex_ small_business_grant_contest. html.

    #2 – The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE)

    Growth Grants Program allowsbusiness owners to apply for a grant useful for financing a particular small business need. Past recipients used their grant for computers, farm equipment, to hire part-time help, marketing materials and more. Learn more at www. businessgrants.org/opportunities/ national_association_self_em- ployed_nase_business_grants. html.

    #3 – The Dare to Dream Grant

    This program encourages students to move through the business cre- ation process by offering business development seminars and up to $10,000 in funding. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/oppor- tunities/dare_to_dream_grant_ program.html.

    #4 – The Miller Lite Tap the Future Business Plan Competition (formally known as the MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneur Series)

    An annual competition for minority business owners sponsored by MillerCoors. Designed to economically empower minority businesses, the program continues to invest in entrepreneurial dreams to em- power urban communities. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/ opportunities/miller_lite_tap_ the_future_millercoors_urban_ entrepreneur_series.html.

    #5 – The Small Business Ad-ministration (SBA)

    The organization administers several competitive business grant programs, ensuring that the nation’s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/ opportunities/sbir_small_business_research_innovation_ grants.html.

    #6 – The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

    MDBA organizes various angel investors with the primary objective of supporting minority businesses with mezzanine and second round fi nancing. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/minority_business_development_agency_mbda_business_grants. html.

    #7 – The Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG)

    The program provides grants to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The funds can be used for land acquisition, construction, renovation, technical assistance, project planning, and more. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/rural_business_enterprise_grants_ rbeg_program.html.

    #8 – The Huggies MomInspired Grant Program

    The program awards grants and business resources to moms to further the development of original product ideas and startup businesses. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/huggies_mom_inspired_grant_ program.html.

    #9 – The DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

    The program is intended to ensure non- discrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the Department’s highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance programs. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/ dot_disadvantaged_business_en- terprise_program.html.

    #10 – The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

    The Program provides grant funding to small businesses to engage in biomedical or behavioral research/ development that leads to a potential for commercialization. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/sbir_small_business_re-search_innovation_grants.html.

    To find more information and grants click here 

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  • Who to watch in 2014

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. The staff and publisher of The Drum Newspaper have identified  the people to watch in the new year. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow them along with us as we report on how they impact Ponchatoula, Baton Rouge, and the state. These are leaders in entertainment, business, education, and public policy—watch them.


    Joyce  C. Burges,55      


    Baker City Council President

    Hometown: Baker, Louisiana

    Life Motto: “Treat people the way you

    would like them to treat you.”

    Business Motto: “The customer is alwaysright”  and “Execute, Execute, Execute”

    2013 Accomplishments: Served with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. I had a chance to showcase my book, “Would Someone Please Teach me How to TeachMy Child.” My husband and I were recognized by the Exodus Mandate and Frontline Ministries and presented with the Robert DreyfusAward, an award given annually to people who exemplify high services to humanity in this country.

    Personal  Resolution for 2014:  To continue to pursue excellent health including a 4-day exercise plan, a regiment of eating 80% raw foods, and drinking 72-80 ounces of water every day. I feel amazing and have more energy.

    What to expect in 2014: Efforts to set up K-4 and K-5 learning centers for our children in Baker; fundraising projects to honor young adults for their hard work in school with the Academics List of Excellence in Education Book Scholarship Fund; create a Food Bank for families, form positive partnership with area cities; discussions that lead to the formation of a Youth Center.

    Business resolution for 2014: To continue to honor God by serving my family and the citizens of District 3, children, churches, etc.  in a way that makes all of them proud to know me.  Everything in my life that’s valuable I want to share with others.  I am so thrilled to know that God has chosen me to do His work….serving people and loving them unconditionally.

    What are you reading: Who was Rosa Parks by Yona Zeldis Mc-Donough and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff McKinny

    What are you listening to: Marian Anderson’s Deep River; TheCommodores’ “Zoom”; and The Measure of a Man (audiobook) by Sidney Poitier.



    ltr-tony-brownJohn G. Daniel , 56

    Executive director Boys Hope Girls Hope Baton Rouge and President/founder JGDProductions and Daniel Karate Group

    Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

    2013 Accomplishments: Executive Director, Boys Hope Girls Hope, JohnG.Daniel Productions–Opening A Black History Time Capsule with Tony Brown, Unity Day/Daniel Karate Group Events e.g.Unity Day Exxon Mobil YMCA 2013, The Advocate Video, “John Daniel, A Sensei,Teaching with A Purpose”

    What to expect in 2014: Residential girls service, Boys Hope GirlsHope, one-hour documentary on the elements of life success; UnityDay; and Daniel Karate Group expansion to Los Angeles and Philadelphia Personal Resolution for 2014: Keep moving forward!

    Business resolution for 2014: Reach out to more youth and families

    Life/business motto: Struggle, Perseverance, Character and Hope What are you listening to? Marvin Gaye’s ”What’s Going On”, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”, and McFadden & Whitehead

    What are you reading?  The Book of Five Rings/ Go Rin No Sho, by Miyamoto Musashi


    Cierra Fogan , 16    

    Ms. Banks, 10th grade student at Madison

    Prep Academy

    Hometown : Baton Rouge

    Personal Motto: “Dream big. Go far”

    2013 Accomplishment: Passed EOC test

    and Deans List 3.0 honor roll and selected

    represent my community as Ms. Banks

    Resolution: Finish this year with 3.5GPA

    What are you reading: Something like 

    Hope, by Shawn goodman

    What are you listening to: K. Michelle’s

    “Can’t Raise a Man”


    8 McClanahanMichael McClanahan, 49

    President,  NAACP Baton Rouge Branch

    Hometown: Zwolle

    2013 Accomplishments: Became president of the Baton Rouge Branch of the NAACP, took the fight for equality and inclusion for all and especially Blacks to the streets. We marched and file a suit against Turner Industries; supported a suit against City Court; and openly spoke out against discrimination at the State Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

    What to expect in 2014: NAACP taking an active role in the educational system and the direction it is headed; taking an active role in the breaking up of the City and annexation of other parts; ensuring the consent decree of the BR police department are fully implemented and shine a spot light on evil and wickedness in and around the Greater Baton Rouge area and hold those accountable who choose to practice and uphold it.

    Personal resolution for 2014: live healthier; do more evangelizing

    Life motto: “If I can help someone as I pass this way through word, thought or deed then my living won’t be in vain.”–Dorothy Clay

    What are you listening to? Richard Smallwood


    David Gray, 25

    State policy fellow and policy analyst at the Louisiana Budget Project

    Hometown: New Orleans

    2013Accomplishments: Coordinated the Louisiana Coalition for Responsible Lending, which is a group of citizens, faith-based organizations, non-profi ts and banks that are dedicated to protecting families from predatory payday loans;. produced fact-based research that helped defeat a bill from Gov. Bobby Jindal that would have raised taxes on low and middle-class families; and appointed to the East Baton Rouge Parish Food Access Policy Commission by Mayor-President Kip Holden.

    What to expect in 2014: Launch of a statewide network of community advocates dedicated to protecting the economic interest of the millennial generation and creation of loan products that offer families’ short-term credit at responsible interest rates and fees. Personal Resolution for 2014: Carve out time each day to grow mentally, physically and spiritually.

    Business resolution for 2014: Continue to provide sound research and analysis of state fiscal issues to promote economic prosperity, a rising standard of living, and the opportunity for all citizens to reach their highest potential.

    Life motto: “Give to the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you.” — my late grandmother, Isabella Gasper.

    What are you listening to? A mix of Israel & New Breed, Gregory Porter, Maxwell, J. Cole, Trombone Shorty, Maze & Frankie Beverley, Luther Vandross, Drake, The Fugees, Nina Simone, and Wale.

     What are you reading? The Bible, Life Entrepreneurs by Gergen and Vanourek, and 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup;  Something Like the Truth blog by Bob Mann, Louisiana Voice blog by Tim Aswell

    wheelerERIN R. WHEELER, PH.D., 28

    Owner and chief higher education consultant for E_Source Learning Solutions, LLC

    Hometown: Amite, LA

    2013 Accomplishments: Delivering higher education presentations at national conferences across the country.

    What to expect in 2014: Broader impact of E_Source Learning Solutions on the educational success of students in the tri-parish area.

    Personal Resolution for 2014: To dream big and ignore the limits.

    Business resolution for 2014: Collaborate with other emerging businesses to help them reach their goals. Do for others what you want to happen for yourself.

    Life: “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others strength; mastering yourself is true power.” –Lao Tzu

    What are you listening to? Electric Lady by Janelle Monae

    What are you reading? Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

    8 Richard

    Keith Richard, 42

    Lead Pastor at Elevate Church

    Hometown: Baton Rouge

    2013 Accomplishments: Received MLK Leadership Award

    What to expect in 2014: Strategizing for the opening of a homeless shelter and resource center

    Personal resolution for 2014: To be a better vessel to be used for the glory of God

    Business resolution for 2014: No clichés or catch phrases…Just Action.

    Life motto: Loving God deeply, makes loving people easy What are you listening to? Jazz

    What are you reading? Apostolic Fathers by Apostle Burnell Williams

    Tonya G. Robertson, 42

    Executive director , Young Leaders Academy of Baton Rouge, Inc.

    Hometown: Baton Rouge

    2013 Accomplishments:  Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Leadership Awards Inaugural Coretta Scott King Heroine Award; Started new foundation, Fifty Shades of Pink, in honor of my late sister and other breast cancer victims and survivors;  led YLA’s  new fundraising event “Men are Cooking” and assembled more than 40 men cooks who prepared their signature dishes with wine, revelry, and relevance.

    What to expect in 2014: My greater is coming!

    Personal Resolution for 2014: I’m on a journey to my best self..I lost 31 pounds in the last three months of 2013 and as I get healthier physically, I’m seeking the same standard of excellence in all other areas of my life! I have come to truly appreciate the sacred value of life well lived and the secret for me is balance and fortitude..finding time for all the people and things that matter and staying with a goal or commitment until I see it through! There is a standard and for me it is EXCELLENCE!

    Business resolution for 2014: To refocus, re-energize, reposition, and rededicate myself and The Academy for next level success as we strive to serve more effi ciently and profoundly the young people whose lives we touch and whose hands we hold. Our mission work to prepare young African American males for lives of success and substance is being expanded to include others, but not at their expense..the challenge and resolve as we move forward is to find a more excellent way to do all that we’re being called to do.

    Life motto:“Faith without works is dead” …so I work and I do it  with passion, purpose and a spirit of integrity and excellence

    What are you listening to: Prince, Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce’, Robin Thicke, Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, upbeat and uptempo gospel ..Donald Lawrence, Yolanda Adams, and Kirk Franklin.

    What are you readingHoly Bible, “Toxic Charity” by Robert D. Lupton, The Advocate newspaper, Baton Rouge Business Report, and online publications for foundations and grants

    8 Whitfield


    Dr. Rani Whitfield,44

    Board Certified Family Practice Physician, FAAFP, CAQ in Sports Medicine

    Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA

    2013 Accomplishments: Received YMCA Legions Award; discussed the Affordable Care Act on several MSNBC TV, including The Ed Show, Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation; Disrupt with Karen Finney, and Melissa Harris Perry show; featured in the documentary “Soul Food Junkies” by Byron Hurt; served as medical director for the National Association of Free Clinics-Communities Are Responding Everywhere (C.A.R.E.) Clinic in New Orleans where more than 900 individuals without access to affordable, quality healthcare treated by volunteers; released “Get On Tha Bus”, a music project and collaboration with artist Love-N-Pain; featured guest on LPB’s The State We’re In with a  monthly segment “Prescription for Health” that addresses health issues and health disparities.

    What to expect in 2014: Shhhh, it’s a secret, but let’s just say it could be a very good year.

    Personal resolution for 2014: 2014 will be bigger and better both personally and professionally. However, I don’t place a lot of stock in New Year’s resolutions. I set goals and work towards them. I choose to live by making decisions every single day. I do not wait for the year to end in order to make them.

    Business resolution for 2014: Better communication and delegating of task .With all the changes in medicine lately, it’s fast and furious—organized chaos. In 2014, I  need to make sure everyone is on the same page. We’ll do this by ensuring everyone in the practice feels motivated towards the same business goals, participates in setting goals, and takes accountability for their department.

    Life motto: “All things are possible to him who believes!”

    What are you listening to: Ian Von’s “Love, Beats, and Guitars”; Dee-1’s “Psalms of David II”; Odissee’s “Tangible Dream”; Taurus RiBoard Certified Family Practice Physician, FAAFP, CAQ in Sports Medicine



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  • Southern students Rally and Sit-in to keep Chancellor

    Southern University’s Royal Cotillion Ballroom was packed with students, public officials, faculty and staff who stood united to express their support for their chancellor, James Llorens, Monday, February 10th

    February 7th, Southern University’s System President Ronald Mason recommended that Chancellor James Llorens’ contract would be extended for one year under the circumstances that the system would work closely with the chancellor in revamping campus leadership. Llorens, who disapproved the terms was voted out by Southern’s board of Supervisors 9-6, not to renew his contract that expires June 30.

    The Southern University student body, outraged with the news, flooded social media sites demanding answers. Student Government Association President and board member Simone Bray organized a rally to clarify any concerns the public may have in regards of the Board’s decision.

    The rally granted the public to hear from board members, faculty, staff, Chancellor Llorens and System President Ronald Mason and to ask questions.

    Chancellor James Llorens address the crowd at the rally concering his tenure ending June 30th.- photo by Briana Brownlee

    Chancellor Llorens was welcomed by a standing ovation from the crowd. “I am overwhelmed with the support I see here tonight.” Said Chancellor Llorens. “This University is going to survive, this University will be here, no institution relies solely on one individual’s shoulders”. In an attempt to ease the tension from the crowd, geared towards President Mason, Chancellor Llorens expressed how he gets along with the president and respects his right to present his recommendation.

    Public officials, Board members, and faculty took turns expressing their support for Chancellor Llorens. Each speaker noted how impressive the student body’s attendance was and urged them to continue the fight by voicing their opinions of the board members.

    “I like the President Mason, but I love Chancellor Llorens” said Representative and Southern Alumnus Ted James, whose comment aroused a roar of cheers from the crowd. James ended his speech by outing Governor Bobby Jindal’s telephone number and challenging students to flood his phone lines and voice their dissatisfaction of the board me members he appointed.

    President Mason was questioned if he was adopting the Louisiana State University’s model, where the president is more active in decisions on campus. Mason denied the allegations, stating that he prefers to run The Southern University System opposite of The Louisiana State University System.

    Southern’s seems as if it is on an upward path with enrollment increasing and majority of the athletics dominating the SWAC.

    “Why now?” Quesstioned former Student Government Association President Willoe McCorkle. “In 1814 we moved here on the bluff of the Mississippi River, now 100 years later we have to deal with this?” McCorkle went on to ask why the members who voted against Llorens were not present.

    The crowd continued to grill Mason with questions such as changing the language and length of the contract to keep Chancellpr Llorens at Southern. Mason simply stated he has no authority to change the contract and his job is not to make popular decisions but to do what he believes is best for the institution.

    Following the rally held Monday nearly 40 students staged a sit-in outside of System President Ron Mason’s office in an effort to keep Llorens their campus chancellor on Tuesday , Febuary 12th. 

    In spite of Mason telling students , at the rally, that his job to make a recommendation and that his role is done; the students still staged the sit-in outside his office until with the goal of Mason inviting them into his office to discuss on Llorens future with the university.

    Bray , also a board member, requested a special meeting of the board of supervisors to re-open the discussion of Llorens’ contract.

    Four other members joined Bray, which met the minimum requirements to hold a special board meeting. Chairwoman Bridget Dinvautannounced , at the sit-in, that a special meeting will take place once she determines a suitable time and date for board members to meet.

    Board member Calvin Braxton said , at the student rally , he would recommend that the board approve a new three-year contract for Llorens. 

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  • Author brings literary work to stage

    Danielle Alysse Martin is  already an author ,entrepreneur and musician who can now add playwright to the impressive list of titles she has amassed.

    Martin’s first literary work was  The Soles of My Shoes was released late  last year.

    The collection of inspirational poems , which is divided into four sections: Learning To Walk, Running For My Life, If The Shoe Fits, and Struttin’ My Stuff, inspired Martin to create a series of monologues based her book.

    Martin said her passion and  desire to assist women  in their walk with Christ led her to found the Press Play Theatre Company and blog, Pretty Girls Praise.

    The Soles of My Shoes was written by Martin to inspire women from all “walks” of life and she hopes that bringing her words to the stage will to the same.

    I am Not my Shoes will be performed  Sunday ,February 21st at 7p.m at The Red Shoes Theater located at 2303 Government st.

    To purchase or a copy of The Soles of my Shoes  tickets click here

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  • Grambling State University’s Band featured in ESPN Magazine


    ESPN, the world leader in sports and sports and sports entertainment, needed a band that would complete ESPN The Magazine’s music issue the editors reached out the Grambling State University’s marching band to make the issue complete. One week before December graduation, ESPN requested ten band members to travel to New Orleans  for a  photo shoot at Tipitina’s. ESPN provided band members and two faculty with a tour bus for the trip. The issue hits the stands this month.

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  • ExxonMobil to pay $2 million

    ExxonMobil Ordered to must pay $2.329 million in a settlement.

    ExxonMobil must pay $2.329 million in a settlement, announced by the state’s Dept. of Environ-mental Quality last August and finalized early this month, to address violations from 2008 into 2013 at its greater Baton Rouge facilities.

    The settlement was DEQ’s biggest with any company last year. But critics question whether the agreement was large enough or even appropriate. Exxon was cited with many infractions at its refinery and resinfinishing and chemical plants in East Baton Rouge Parish and its tank-farm facility in West Baton Rouge.

    Early this month, DEQ said the settlement was approved following a public review period late last year and was signed by state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell in December.In addition to paying a civil penalty of $300,000 to DEQ, Exxon under the agreement must spend no less than $1 million on Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures or SPCC projects at its Baton Rouge complex and will fund beneficial environmental projects or BEPs totaling $1.029 million.

    In terms of funding, the top four BEPs approved under the settlement are $400,000 for a Groundwater Reduction Project to trim the company’s groundwater usage; a $250,000 donation to DEQ to improve its Early Warning Organic Chemical Detection system; a $100,000 donation to the East Baton Rouge Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness/ Local Emergency Planning Committee to implement the ExxonMobil North Baton Rouge Emergency Preparedness Initiative; and a $100,000 donation to Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge for weather proofing and air tightening of homes, especially those next to ExxonMobil facilities.

    In the settlement, Exxon also agreed to a $50,000 donation to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation for groundwater-conservation awareness in East Baton Rouge Parish; a $50,000 donation to DEQ to fund the agency’s Expanded Age Distribution and Vehicle Population Data Project on emissions in Louisiana; a $29,000 donation to the Louisiana Foundation for Excellence in Science, Technology and Education, or LaFESTE, for the Baton Rouge Clean Air Coalition; a $25,000 donation to Baton Rouge Green Association Inc.’s Neighbor Woods project near the refi nery; and $25,000 payment to install a meteorological station at the company’s Baton Rouge refinery complex.

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  • Stuffing teen’s body deemed ok

    VALDOSTA, GA.—STATE regulators concluded that a Valdosta,  Georgia funeral home broke no laws when it used newspapers to stuff the dead body of 17 year-old Kendrick Johnson.

    Johnson  was found dead last year inside a rolled up gym mat at his school. His family filed a complaint with the Georgia Board of Funeral Service last year after newspaper was found in the place of his missing organs when the body was exhumed for a second autopsy.

    Johnson’s parents, who are fighting to have their son’s death declared a homicide after authorities concluded it was a freak accident, said they were outraged and found the funeral home’s use of newspapers to be disrespectful.

    Attorneys for the Johnson family released a letter from the board saying it found Harrington Funeral Home broke no state law. However, the board also noted that using newspaper to fill a body cavity is not considered a “best practice”.and that other materials are “more acceptable than newspaper,”

    The Valdosta Daily Times reported. It’s still unclear what happened to Johnson’s internal organs after the GBI autopsy. The GBI has said it returned the organs to the body before sending it to the funeral home. But the funeral home has said the organs were missing when the body arrived.

    An attorney for Harrington Funeral Home, said its owners were “certainly happy” with regulators’ finding that it did nothing illegal.

    A $10,000 check offered to anyone with credible information in the death of Kendrick Johnson was returned last tuesday after a  a 90 expiration date. Students at Lowndes High School discovered Johnson’s body Jan. 11, 2013, inside a rolled up gym mat propped against the wall beside the bleachers. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner concluded he died from positional asphyxia, meaning his body was stuck upside down and he was unable to breathe.

    Sheriff’s investigators concluded Johnson got trapped in the mat while reaching for a gym shoe that had fallen inside.

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  • ,

    Lt. Gov. Dardenne brings party to the Grammys

    The Life & Times Of…The Hot 8 Brass Band is up for a Grammy in the best regional root music album category, competing with Richard’s Le Fou and Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience’s Dockside Sessions. Simien also was scheduled to perform but his Los Angeles arrival was delayed by weather. Other Louisiana artists nominated this year are Allen Toussaint, Hunter Hayes, Terence Blanchard, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Bobby Rush and PJ Morton. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne gave an audio-visual presentation tracing Louisiana’s history of musical luminaries and in uences. Louisiana has sent a nominee to the Grammy Awards every year since 1960 and at least nine annually since 2000, he said afterward.

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  • EBR School System announces plan to make up lost days

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has approved changes to the school calendar that will make up the four days lost because of the weather earlier this year.

    Students will loose a day of Mardi Gras Break when they attend school Wednesday, March 5th. Students will also be required to attend school Friday, March 14, 2014.


    February 10 through March 18 an additional 30 minutes will be added on for students and February 10 through April 28 for staff along with the required make up days.


    School Board Officials said no additional days would be added to the school year. 


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  • Dunkin Donuts to open in North Baton Rouge

    Dunkin Donuts will open their newest location at 8121 Florida Blvd, in North Baton Rouge, Feb. 12, with a grand opening celebration.

    The restaurant will be open 7 days a week from 5a.m. to 10p.m. and feature free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen television, and a full service drive thru. To celebrate the grand opening, Dunkin Donuts will offer patrons 99cent regular and iced coffee along with door prizes.

    The restaurant will employ 35 residents and  is located at  the former location of Enterprise car rental at the corner of Wooddale Blvd and Florida Blvd.

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  • Red Stick Ready.com available for severe weather updates

    In times of severe weather Mayor President  Melvin “Kip” Holden is encouraging  East Baton Rouge Parish citizens to visit Red Stick Ready for information on the effects it could have on the parish.

    Created by Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden and the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency the website provides information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from all emergency situations.

    The site presents parish-wide road conditions, crime reports, and disaster assistance information. Red Stick Ready’s Facebook page provides hourly updates.

    Baton Rouge is one of only two cities in Louisiana to be certified as a “Storm Ready Community” by the National Weather Service.

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  • Resolved to be a better parent? Try these books

    HERE ARE FOUR GREAT READS TO HELP strengthen, encourage, and inspire and help parents or guardians with their New Year’s resolutions to be a better parent. These authors break down parental issues and challenges using spiritual, educational, and scientific guidelines to help caregivers become better parents. Three of these authors are Louisiana- natives whose books will empower any parent.

    Kamali Academy’s AfriKan Centered Grammar Book

    Geared toward teaching and educating children on grammar basics, New Orleans native Samori Camara, Ph.D.’s, Kamali Academy’s Afrikan Centered Grammar Book presents grammar rules from subject-verb agreement to proper nouns and correct sentence structure for parents to advance their children’s learning.
    The book is described as “Afrikan-centered” because it teaches Afrikanvalues throughout the writing exercises. Camara is a professor of history at Dillard University and also the founder at KamaliAcademy.

    Kamali Academy’s Afrikan Centered Grammar Book is a great curriculum for parents who homeschool elementary and middle school children. Camara provides online history classes on the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and Afrikan Literature.

    The Parent Anointing

    Baton Rouge counselor Barbara Green’s The Parent Anointing is now on its second printing. The book delivers impactful Bible- based principles  to help parents become spiritually empowered, whether they have or have not given birth.

    Green pulls from her decades of experience as a certied counsellor, marriage therapist, and evangelist to bring insight and purpose to God’s “calling” of parenting.


    buythebook sandra semien

    It’s All in His Hands

    It’s All in His Hands ,by Shreveport native, Sandra Semien is a memoir of her life as a mother and champion of an intellectually disabled son (before such labels were given). The registered nurse is now also a parent advocate teaching and inspiring mothers who are raising children with learning disabilities and struggling with education programs and schools. To her readers, Semien writes: “I was delighted when God shared with me and now with you that,” ‘Even though you may not think of having the perfect child I thought of you as the perfect parent to love them to perfection’.”


    BuyTheBook Raising Black Boys


    Raising Black Boys

    Jawanza Kunjufu of Chicago has pulled together information on the Black male community and how Black boys are treated in the homes and throughout society. By showing his true passion towards reconstructing the mentalities and future of men, Kunjufu presents statistics and facts on the declining percentage of Black male success rates and how parents can redirect the trend.

    Raising Black Boys has the goal of helping parents eliminate some of the early problems that Black male youth are faced by showing the impact of specific goals, words spoken, and trends on rearing Black boys.



     By Crystal Brown
    The Drum Contributing Writer




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  • Southern University Chancellor ousted by Board of Supervisors

    The Southern University Board of Supervisors  voted  today not to renew the contract of James Llorens, Southern University Baton Rouge Chancellor, which expires June 30, 2014.

    “The Board thanks Dr. Llorens for his service and wishes him well. We will soon make decisions on the leadership direction for our main campus and continue the efforts of making Southern University great,” said SU Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Bridget A. Dinvaut.

    Llorens was named chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge in May 2011, the largest of the five-campus Southern University System, the only historically black university system in the U.S.

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  • Annual Roots Camp starts Saturday, Feb. 8

    No preselected speakers, no “expert” panels, and no inspiring power-points will set the scene for the Fourth Annual Roots Camp.

    Instead, participants and community activists in attendance will set the course of the two-day “unconference,” Feb. 8 – 9, at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Hall, 5888 Airline Highway, 9am-4pm, daily.

    “Each year we learn more about our state, our issues, and possible solutions to the many diverse problems that Louisiana has and how to find the possible solutions.” said Dawn Collins,Roots Camp coordinator

    Referred to as an “unconference” because like a typical conference people gather from various parts of the state to share information , but it is not done in the conventional format done in the typical fashion , i.e. pre selected speakers ,expert panels, preselected actives, of the conventional conference.

    At the beginning of the each day participants submit their session topics to the staff and the agenda, for the day, is built around the submissions.

    Topics can range from Bayou Corne to racial equality to education; anything can be a possible topic as long as it has the goal of creating a more equitable Louisiana.

    After topics are selected those who submitted them present their information in a session. Topics can be presented in any way , the only things discouraged at the “unconference” are power-points and panel discussions.

    The goal of the sessions, no matter the topic, is to encourage the people who attend to find solutions to problems they feel are plaguing Louisiana.

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  • Understanding Your Calling by Ginger London

    Under Standing Your Calling is Baton Rouge minister Ginger London’s study manual that teaches Christians how to easily discern and understand the call of God on their lives through discovering, developing and delivering their greatest potential in ministry service. London shares with readers how to break through the self-imposed barriers that keeps them either running from the call or stuck at a certain point. They will learn how to increase their God confidence, set goals to fulfill their calling and how to reach the masses with their message.


    London is the host of The Ginger London Ministries Show on Blog Talk Radio and publisher of the monthly “Heart to Heart” Newsletter, which provides articles to help in spiritual growth, relationships, and work success. Under Standing Your Calling and other inspirational materials, written by London, can be found at gingerlondon.com.

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  • McComb, Miss. native gets marker on Freedom Trail

    JACKSON, MISS.  – ON MONDAY, Jan. 20, the Mississippi Freedom Trail honored C.C. Bryant with a marker on the  Trail. This will be the 15th marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail.

    It is very appropriate to recognize one of Mississippi’s own heroes of the Civil Rights Movement with a marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail,” said Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Divi-sion, which oversees the trail program. “C. C. Bryant was an instrumental part of building a more just and peaceful society for Mississippians and certainly deserves this honor.”

    Bryant was born January 15, 1917, in Tylertown. Miss. He was the fourth of 11 children born to Monroe and Anna Bryant. He married Emogene Gooden in 1941, and they had three children. Bryant is best known for his contributions to the Civil Rights and Voter Registration Movement, both in Mississippi and across the nation.

    In 1954, he was elected president of the Pike County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, followed by his election as vice president of Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP under the leadership of Aaron E. Henry and Field Secretary Medgar Evers.

    In 1965, he testified before the Civil Rights Commission to eliminate discriminatory voting practices. His testimony, along with that of other civil rights leaders, helped pave the way for the passing and signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Bryant continued his legacy of social justice by maintaining an extensive civil rights archive collection. He served on various boards and committees at the local, state and national levels.

    During his lifetime, Bryant received numerous awards and honors, including the Medgar Evers Medallion and the Aaron Henry Award. In 2005, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation honored him by naming the Institute Award for Community Organiz-ing for him.Bryant passed away in December 2007.

    The Mississippi Freedom Trail is a cultural initiative designed to commemorate the state’s Civil Rights heritage. The trail offers a virtual tour of the state and those sites that played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement. Led by a task force of scholars, historians and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division helped to coordinate the taskforce’s work of selecting 25 initial sites for the trail from nearly 300 submissions from communities around the state.

    The first four markers were funded with donations from Tougaloo College. MDA and local private and public contributions. Sub- sequent markers are being funded through community funds and the 2010 Civil Rights Historic Sites Grant Program passed by the Mississippi Legislature (HB 1701) and administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History


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  • Jindal Administration asks judge to rescind desegregation order

    GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S  ADministration is asking a federal judge end a desegregation order that bans the state from giving public funds—including school vouchers— to all-white private schools.

    The 1976 landmark Brumfield vs. Dodd decision was rendered after the United States found evidence that Louisiana officials were using taxpayer dollars to encourage white flght after being ordered to integrate public schools.

    The desegregation order still applies to about half of the state’s school systems. Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled in November that the Justice Department had the right to monitor the state’s school voucher program to ensure it does not promote segregation. The Jindal administration wants to end the desegregation order, saying the state has complied with the law for several decades.

    Jindal’s lawyers are also asking Lemelle to reconsider his November decision that allows the Justice Department to monitor the state’s school voucher program to ensure it does not promote segregation.


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  • Your 2014 money solution starts now

    IT’S THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAr and time for you to think about money. You have been told for years how to handle your money. You’ve been told:

    “Live within your means”

    “Pay yourself first”

    “Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul”

    “Save for a rainy day”

    “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”

    “Pinch your pennies”

    “Start on your golden parachute”

    The reality is that you must live every day. For most of you, you owe, you owe, you owe, and your credit needs work. For some, your money is tight. You are living “right,” and you just need guidance to the financial light.

    The New Year money solution you seek is known as personal budgeting, and it begins now with some great New Year money tips.

    1. Visit your local credit union or bank and open a Holiday Savings account. Set up for a small amount to be taken out of your account each pay period for 2014 holidays. Use the amount you spent this year and divide by the number of pay periods to determine the amount to save.

    2. Use a portion of your tax returns to get a secured credit card from your local credit union to improve your credit.

    3. If you are a homeowner, visit your local HUD Certified Counseling agency for a mortgage checkup to determine if you qualify for lower rates

    4. Open a vacation account along with your Holiday Savings account. Determine where you want to go and when and

    start saving towards the travel.

    5. Use a portion of your tax returns to pay off a pay day loan to break the cycle.

    6. Use a portion of your tax returns to catch up your child support payments. Decide to pay Peter and Paul on time to avoid late fees.

    7. Live within your means. Try to move to cash only transactions. The less you put on your credit card the closer you get to living within your means.

    8. Pay yourself fi rst. Paying off debt and not making more debt is a modified version of paying yourself fi rst.

    9. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. Make every effort to pay off your payday loan and identify a less costly product for quick cash. Check with your local credit union.

    10. Save for a rainy day. Every day is a rainy day for some. Do your best to create an emergency fund.

    11. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. You don’t need the biggest television and the most current cell phone.

    12. Pinch penny. Roll the loose change that you find around the house and make it a point to deposit them each month.

    13. Start on your golden parachute. Some people believe that life starts at 65. Meet with someone this year to learn the truth about retirement.

    This commentary was provided by Ed Gaston. He  is vice president of community development for Wealth Watchers Inc. in Jacksonville, Fl.  For More information click here.



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  • Yes, Chas, parents and students deserve better

    Linda Johnson

    former BESE represenative

    VERY RECENTLY THERE HAVE been articles about alleged cheating in East Baton Rouge schools.  The television headlines said wide spread cheating in EBR.

    The president of BESE said studentsand parents deserve more.

    Well I agree,so I called the elected BESE representative for the majority of the schools in EBR and she had no knowlodge to credit she immediately began a series of e-mail correspondence to understand what was happening.

    It is amazing that the email thread indicates that the alleged wide spread cheating was not under investigation, however the LDoE is looking into the fact that EBR self reported  a student who graduated without meeting the graduation requirements and also what processes had been put in place so that this would not happen again.

    Now I know there are those of you who are reading this and of course cannot possibly believe me because you are so conditioned to believe ” the  white’s man ice is colder”.

    My question is how do you make wide spread comments prior to getting the facts? What is the real motive?   How does a conversation become one whereby a local reporter says he has the documents and then there are no documents.

    Let me see if there are some reasons.  Well it seems to be well known that the state would like to have more of the schools in EBR.

    EBR surprised all when the school performance scores came out and the schools they thought would fall to the state managed to improve.

    The next question are persons on BESE and the stateinvolved in the break- away city? The president testified at House Education that he could support the break-a-way school district.  Well the timing on the alleged cheating seems poised to help that situation especially when one looks at the state of the city message given by the mayor.

    I don’t know why this happened but I do know this it is time to stop fatten- ing frogs for snakes.  Most of us know that phrase “fat- tening frogs” but if you don’t let me explain.

    Some of you reading this will run to get the real facts from the very persons who started the rumor, well you are fattening frogs, some of you reading this will also be glad to kill the messenger, I suggest  you kill the message.

    If you choose to kill the messenger then of course you are fattening frogs.  And then there are you reading this who will agree but will never speak out or support are fattening frogs.

    The next time you read or have the media provide you with information that does not seem real, well get the facts, get the documents, ask to see the information, talk with your elected BESE member, ask community leaders to help you understand, involve the religious community because sometimes these are moral issues as this one is, then use that great gift the Almighty gave each of us, our own brains and the ability to think for our-selves.




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  • ,

    Southeastern Football team ranked top 10 by FCS

    After setting a single season school record for victories, winning its first conference championship since 1961 and making its first-ever trip to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, the SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA FOOTBALL TEAM finished sixth in both of the final FCS national polls. Southeastern was picked No. 6 by the voters in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches’ polls. The ranking represented the season high for the Lions in both listings.

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  • School voucher apps accepted

    LOUISIANA FAMILIES CAN NOW begin to enroll in the voucher program for the 2014-15 school year.

    The Louisiana Scholarship Program empowers low-income families with the same opportunity as more affluent parents already have – the financial resources to send their child to the school of their choice.

    The application period is open until February 28. Parents can enroll at the vochure school or online at www.doe.louisiana.gov.

    Last year, more than 12,000 students across the state applied for the scholarships. According to  the state Department of Education, 136 schools are participating in the voucher program this year.

    Private and parochial schools have one year to make a difference.


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  • Study: Higher blood pressure in Black men from single-parent homes

    WASHINGTON DC—BLACK MEN raised in single-parents households often have higher blood pressure than those raised by both parents, accord-ing to an American Heart Association study.

    Taking a cross-sectional sample of 515 Black males in a Howard University family study, the fi ndings report that “Black men who lived with both parents compared with the reference group of men who never lived with both parents during their lifetime had lower systolic Blood Pressure.

    The benefi ts also improved depending on how long the males lived with both parents: This protective effect was more pronounced among men who lived with both parents for 1 to 12 years of their lives; they had BP, pulse pres- sure mean arterial pressure and a 46% decreased odds of developing hypertension.

    Using the findings, the study concluded “these results provide preliminary evidence that childhood family structure exerts a long-term influence on BP among Black men.”

    Men in single-parent households  are more likely to live in poverty, which could explain the results.

    The study is another in the tangled history of Blacks and blood pressure. According to WebMD, Blacks develop high blood pres- sure at younger ages than other groups in the United States. They are also more likely to develop complications from elevated blood pressure, including stroke, kidney disease, and blindness.

    Though genetic factors play a role in high blood pressure, researchers have attributed environ- mental factors as well. Black people in the United States are more likely to be overweight than Blacks in other countries.

    This is largely considered to be an effect of racial discrimination in hiring practices and systemic economic inequality.


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  • ACA offers $50 or less rates

    A NEW REPORT RELEASED by the Department of Health Human Services shows that nearly half of single young adults who are uninsured and may be eligible for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace could get coverage for $50 or less per month.

    Young adults can purchase coverage and get lower costs on monthly premiums through tax credits. The amount an individual can save depends on family size.

    The report found that out of 2.9 million sing young adults ages 18 to 34 who may be eligible, 1.3 million could have purchase a bronze plan for $50 a month.

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  • Affordable Healthcare Act classes offered

     SEVEN EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS ABOUT the Affordable Care Act at East Baton Rouge Parish libraries

    through March.

    The Affordable Care Act 101 program will offer one-on-one assistance from  specially trained federal navigators and certified application counselors who will help  local  residents  evaluate  the  available  health  insurance  coverage  that  is  available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.

    The federally funded navigators and certified  application counselors  are trained to provide  unbiased  information  in a  culturally  competent  manner about  health  insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans and public programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

    There will be an educational video and a presentation on the Affordable Care Act, followed by a question-and-answer session.

    The  ACA navigators and certified application counselors will provide  private assistance  to individuals  to  help  them  understand  the  health  insurance options and to determine the plan.

    February classes are Thursday, Feb. 13, 6, at the Zachary Branch Library, 1900 Church street; Thursday, Feb. 27, 6pmat

    the Delmont Gardens Branch Library, 3351 Lorraine Street.

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  • Postal Services raised cost of first class stamp

    UNITED STATES POSTAL Service approved a temporary price hike of three cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the cost to 49 cents a letter.

    The increase comes as an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail de- creases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn.

    The last increase for stamps was a year ago, when the cost of sending a letter rose by a penny to 46 cents.

    The Postal Service lost $5 billion last year and has been trying to get Congress to let it end Saturday delivery and reduce payments on retiree health benefits.

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  • Secretary of State to launch Geaux Biz

    SMALL BUSINESSES SOON WILL be able to set up shop in Louisiana without scurrying among state agencies to file the necessary paperwork. GeauxBiz will allow entrepreneurs to create a business name, get a state tax identification number and build an unemployment insurance account via the Internet.

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler said GeauxBiz will to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and cut out duplications across state government. Startup business tasks involving Schedler’s office, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the state Department of Revenue will be on a single website by 2015.

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  • ,

    State library celebrates Black history with Kim Marie Vaz

    In celebration of Black History Month, the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana is hosting author Kim Marie Vaz for a discussion of The ‘Baby Dolls’: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition. The presentation will take place at noon on Feb. 6 at the State Library Seminar Center.

    Vaz’s book is a history of the Million Dollar Baby Dolls, one of the first women’s organizations to participate in Mardi Gras, and its post-Hurricane Katrina comeback. The ‘Baby Dolls’ traces the tradition as it spread to different New Orleans neighborhoods and empowered women.

    The book uncovers the fascinating history of the women who wore baby doll costumes—short satin dresses, bonnets and stockings with garters—and their bold behavior during their journeys into the predominantly male Mardi Gras celebration.

    Vaz will share photographs from different time periods to highlight how the practice changed over time. The photos, along with short video clips, bring to life the spirit of fun and play that constitute the practice of masking.

    The ‘Baby Dolls’ served as the basis for a major installation on the Baby Doll tradition at The Presbytere as part of the permanent Carnival exhibit.

    Vaz is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and education professor at Xavier University. Her research focuses on art as a response to social trauma.

    Registration is not required for this free event. Attendees are invited to bring brown bag lunches.


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  • Presenting Miss Tangipahoa

    Miss Tangipahoa, Kentwood High student Jamaria Martin, was all smiles when she was crowned queen in the senior division on December 5. Her parents are Eureka Martin and Charles Ginn. Tykeria Cohn, a Kentwood High School student, was runner up for queen in the senior division. Her parents are Natashan Cohn and Christopher McKnight.
    Charlisha Martin, O.W.Dillion Elementary School student, was named Miss Teen Tangipahoa. Her parents are Eureka Martin and Charles Davis. Doretha Pod was the Grand Marshal for the 2013 Tangipahoa Christmas Parade. A lifelong resident of the community. The mother grand mother and great grand mother work more than 20 years as a sack grader for Houston Sack House, a local business who doors closed years ago. Today she sings in her church choir and cook from scratch.




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  • Saturday Night Live Bows to Pressures, Hires First Black Female

    Comedienne  Sasheer Zamata has joined the cast of Saturday Night Live as the first Black female cast member on the show. 

    The decision to hire Zamata was preceded by a national outcry for diversity on the late night show. Activism group ColorofChange.org was one of the leading organizations demanding the presence of Black females in a non derogatory role on the show.

    Zamata is a performer at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater in New York City and L.A., She goes by “Sheer” and has a web series called “Pursuit of Sexiness” and does stand-up

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  • BR leaders honored with Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award

    Nine community leaders were honored with The Baton Rouge MLK Leadership Awards, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at the Baton Rouge Marriott.


    Vocalist-Worikeena-Righteous opened the event with the singing of the National Anthem

    Vocalist-Worikeena-Righteous opened the event with the singing of the National Anthem


    These community leaders mirror the image, character, life, and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 2014 award recipients are: JOHN G. DANIELexecutive director, Girls Hope and Boys Hope; GREG WILLIAMS JR., founding artistic director, New Venture Theatre; WENDELL JAMES, HIV/AIDS counselor,  Bernard Taylor Jr., East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Superintendent; JASON GARDNERowner, Vivid Images Graphics and Printing; MICHAEL W. MCCLANAHAN, NAACP President; KEITH RICHARD,pastor,  Elevate Church; JARVIS BROWN, CEO Executive; TONYA G. ROBERTSONexecutive director,The Young Leaders Academy.

    radio-personality-Havilah-Malone-and-Motivational-Speaker-Marvin O. Smith hosted the Second annual BR MLK Leadership awards.

    radio-personality-Havilah-Malone-and-Motivational-Speaker-Marvin O. Smith hosted the Second annual BR MLK Leadership awards.

    The awards were hosted by Havilah Malone and Marvin O. Smith   and featured performances from local talent such as The cast of New Venture Theater’s SHOUT! and the Winter McCray Dance Company.

    Winter McCray and dancers from the WInter McCray Dance Company performed.

    Winter McCray and dancers from the WInter McCray Dance Company performed.


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  • Louisianans seek end to cycle of financial failure

    Stretching to northeast Louisiana through  central  parts of the state then southwest and into the capitol region, the steady grip of poverty is the primary concern of Louisiana’s working residents and youth.

    During a series of listening sessions conducted statewide residents told partners with the  Louisiana Building Economic Security Together, or LABEST, coalition that policies on housing, education, small business lending, child support arrears, predatory lending, and electoral processes are prohibiting citizens from accessing or maintaining personal income and wealth.

    “We are literary in a cycle of failure,” one New Orleans resident said during a November session held with the Lower Ninth Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association. Nearly everyone in the room nodded, clapped quietly or said “yeah” in agreement.

    Poverty Discussion

    Facilitators of small group discussions challenged them to investigate solutions. They identified a dozen, but the most critical, they agreed, was to have a unified community organization representing various neighborhood associations that could be vocal in addressing elected officials.

    They said they needed advocacy training and realistic strategies to help the community rebuild schools, attract working people, and open business that will bring good paying jobs.Financial literacy and small business sustainability were concerns of residents in southwest andthe capital region who met with the  SWLA Economic Development Alliance in Lake Charles and Center in Opelousas,respectively.

    Entrepreneurs spoke up against lenders’ policies that they said seem to allow for discrimination and resistance to their growth. Home owners said the lack of fi nancial literacy makes it difficult to keep their homes out of foreclosures, while workers said it’s difficult to manage bills without falling into the clutch of predatory lenders.

    Working fathers  were most the most vocal about the impact of arrears and mounting child support fees on their ability to parent and stay above debt.

    Youth and adults in Northeast Louisiana met met with The Wellspring in Monroe.  They spoke up questioning the finanical state of there schools and it’s impact on preparing them to be successful students.

    “How can we better if no one is teaching us better?” a high school student asked. “Before today we didn’t know about credit and savings (accounts). Our parents don’t know this.”

    They agreed the region’s extreme poverty and high teen pregnancy rates were the results of education policies that allowed poor performance and social service policies that once helped young mothers stay in school.

    “We have the voice,” said a Pointe Coupee resident. “And we believe the advocacy work with a change to the policies  and practices that pre- vent us from increasing wealth.” said a Point Coupee Resident. ” And we believe  the advocacy work with LABEST will help us get our leader attention and change some things”

    For LABEST organizers and regional partners that is the goal.

    Poverty Discusion 2

    “We will use what we’ve heard to galvanize advocates, policy makers, non-profits and community leaders; to engage; educate and empower them. Everyone needs to be civically engaged.”, said LABEST Director Joyce James. ” The sessions were about answering questions and hearing concerns, as to how citizens can make a change to the policies and practices that prevent us from increasing wealth”

    About LABEST.

    LABEST is a collaboration of grass roots, non-profit, advocacy organizations, policy makers, and community leaders who have the common goal of helping Louisiana residents achieve financial independence. To do so, members of LABEST identify policies , promote advocacy awareness, and empower constituents to build economic security over a lifetime. Similar sessions are hosted throughout the nation.


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  • ,

    CADAV crowns Miss Banks

    Community Against Drugs and Violence hosted its 19th annual Miss Banks Holiday Pageant.

    In front of a crowd of 100 at the new North Banks Middle School, formerly Banks Elementary, Dashira Raby, Amirah Montgomery and Jacquell Hoyt were crowned Ms. Banks, Ms. Banks Jr and Little Ms. Banks.

    The judging and tallying consisted of a three part scoring. The girls were scored on: sportswear, dress wear, and their response to the essay topic “What I like about my neighborhood and what I would like to do to make a change.”

    This judges were Janae Boothe, former Ms. Louisiana. Evelyn Bickham, Monica Bertrand, Helen Toliver Isaiah Marshall.  Photos were compliments of Eric Singleton. Mascot, Bailey Monet Galloway.

    State Rep Regian Barrow, Ms Jr Banks, Amirah Montgomery. Ms. Banks Dayshira Raby, Little Ms banks Jacquell Hoyt and Pat McCallister-LeDuff, President

    State Rep Regian Barrow, Ms Jr Banks, Amirah Montgomery. Ms. Banks Dayshira Raby, Little Ms banks Jacquell Hoyt and Pat McCallister-LeDuff, President

    Ms. Banks 2012 – 2013, Ciera Fogan, crowned this years winners and Cash prizes were awarded to each of the winners.

    2014 Miss Banks Competitors
    2014 Miss Banks Competitors


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  • Burges says Baker audit positions city for financial ‘cleanup’


    By Leslie D. Rose

    The Drum Assistant Managing Editor

    Baker City Councilwoman Joyce Burges, District 3, said she doesn’t want citizens of Baker to be overly concerned with what may seem to be broken financially within the city.

    Her comments came after the city’s 2012-2013 annual audit’s findings caused the Louisiana Legislative Auditor to issue a “disclaimer of an opinion”.

    A disclaimer of opinion means the financial status could not be determined because of an absence of appropriate financial records, according to KJ Henderson of Demand Media.

    Because Baker is required by the home rule charter to appoint an auditor each fiscal year, the Baker City Council voted last year to hire a new auditor and remove Mary Sue Stages who served as auditor for nearly 50 years.

    Members of the council said then that fresh eyes needed to be on the city’s finances. Posterwaite and Netterville Firm was chosen to audit the city’s finances for the 2012-2013 fiscal year end which lead to the disclaimer.

    Burges said the findings provide an opportunity for the city to rebuild and improve on its financial picture. “We are positioning ourselves, as a city, to clean up the financial damages…this is an opportunity to rebuild and improve our financial statement and financial records,” she said.

    She continued to say that the process of rebuilding the city to good financial standings will take some time because the financial deficiencies are grave.

    Legislative auditor Joy Irwin said she will be available for comment once her report is published within the next three weeks. A brief summary of the audit will be available at the Baker City Council meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 6pm.


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  • BRPD offers women’s self defense classes

    The Baton Rouge Police Department is offering an Equalizer Women’s Self-Defense class. The class will be held at the Baton Rouge Police Department Training Academy, located at 9050 Airline Hwy (in the building behind the parking garage). The class times are from 6:00pm until 10:00pm for each session.

    The course covers: facts about violence against women, reducing the risk of becoming a victim, defensive striking, common grab defenses, head-lock defenses, bear hug defenses, striking and knife defense and group escapes.

    There is no charge to attend the class which is open to women over the age of 13. Participants should wear comfortable clothing suitable for physical activity.

    Session 1

    Monday, February 17th or Tuesday, February 18th

    Session 2

    Wednesday, February 19th

    Session 3

    Monday, February 24th

    Session 4

    Wednesday, February 26th

    Participants must attend all four sessions to be certified.

    Class size is limited so participants should register early by calling the Baton Rouge Police Department Training Academy at 225-389-3886.

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  • 2014 Baton Rouge Blues Festival Performers Announced

    The Baton Rouge Blues Foundation has announced the performers for the the 20th annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival .

    “We believe this year’s diverse group of performers will give all music lovers and festival goers a unique experience unmatched by any free/open to the public festival in the United States. We invite everyone to join us  downtown to  celebrate our original sound of the Swamp Blues.”

    The free to the public, family-friendly festival will feature an impressive lineup of blues legends and newcomers alike, including Dr. John & The Nite Trippers, Kenny Neal with Henry Gray, Black Joe Lewis, Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens, Lil Freddie King, Johnny Sansone, Black Pistol Fire, Chris LeBlanc, Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, Brother Dege, and Baton Rouge Music Studios

    The festival will be held to downtown Baton Rouge Saturday, April 12th at  Repentance Park and Galvez Plaza.

    During the past three years, the festival has become one of the nation’s fastest growing blues festivals of its kind, consistently growing in attendance to more than 10,000 people ranging from ages 18 to 65.


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  • ,

    Southern University Staff Member Laid to Rest

    The Southern University community laid to rest Cecil L. Houston at Greater King David Baptist Church on Saturday, Jan. 18. Houston a native of Ventress and resident of Baton Rouge who , passed away , at the age of 49,  on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.

    He worked at Southern University as the the longtime assistant to the registrar on the Baton Rouge campus.  He is survived by his mother, Annette B. Houston; two godsons, Terrence Houston and Cedric Bell; two sisters, Tara Houston (James) Jackson and Nicki Houston (Russell) Davis; brother, Roland (Jacqueline) Houston, III; godmother, Geraldine Battley; and sister-in-law, Vicki Houston.

    He was preceded in death by his father, Roland Houston, Jr.; brother, Kenneth Houston, Sr.; and grandparents, Roland, Sr. and Zeal Houston and Lazin and Alena Battley. Pallbearers will be Cerwin Fleming, Kenneth, Daryl, Roland IV and Terrence Houston, Ecknozzio Jr. and Jordan Jackson, Syvaris Selvage and Rodney Coates. Honorary pallbearers will be Henry, Oliver, Roland III, Timothy, Leo, Robert and Roy Houston, John Battley, Willie R. Davis, Jr., Cedric Bell, James Demoulin and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. He was a graduate of Glen Oaks High, class of 1982.

    He received a Bachelor of Music, 2001, M.E.D. in Administration Supervision, 2004 and a M.A. in Counselor Education, 2010 all of Southern University. He was also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.

    Cecil loved the Lord! He was on the music staff at Greater King David Baptist Church. Also, his ministry of music has been a blessing in many church ministries, choirs and all around the U.S.A., far too many musical artist to name and in the surrounding Baton Rouge Area.

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  • LLBC Host Scholarship Brunch and Honor Southern and Grambling Alumni


    Vice Chairman Rep. Ed Price, Chairwoman Rep. Katrina Jackson, scholarship recipient Nakia Graham, and event co-chair, Rep. Regina Barrow.

    Vice Chairman Rep. Ed Price, Chairwoman Rep. Katrina Jackson, scholarship recipient Nakia Graham, and event co-chair, Rep. Regina Barrow.

    The La Legislative Black Caucus and LLBC Foundation hosted their 29th Annual Scholarship Jazz Brunch.The event was  a collaborative effort , held  Saturday, November 30, 2013,  the legislative Caucus and its foundation to raise funds to grant scholarships to Louisiana students from elementary education through higher education.

    The LLBC and LLBCF also awarded the Avery C. Alexander Civil Rights Award to two recipients this year: Rev. Betty Claiborne; Pastor, Heard Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and to Rev. E. Edward Jones, Sr.; Pastor, Galilee Baptist Church of Shreveport, for their exemplary work in their communities; the Pinkie C. Wilkerson Humanitarian Award to  LafayeCarter Jackson; Memorial Funeral Home of Homer, LA the Charles I. Hudson Visionary Award to Erica McGeachy Crenshaw of Execute Now!.
    This year saw in inclusion of the Bayou Classic Legend Award, given to spectacular alumni of Grambling State University and Southern University. The inaugural winners were Willie Brown, administrator of the Oakland Raiders and Hall of Famer for Grambling, and Alecia Shields-Gadson, the athletic director at Coppin State University, for Southern. 
    Additionally, the LLBCF was able to grant scholarships to college students during the event based on their essay submissions, and they were: Leon Duncan, Jr., University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Nakia Nicole Graham, Northwestern State University; Justin Williams, University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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  • ,

    Leaders to be Honored with Martin Luther King jr. Leadership Award

    Nine community leaders will be recognized at The Baton Rouge MLK Leadership Awards, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at the Baton Rouge Marriott, at 7pm. These community leaders mirror the image, character, life, and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 2014 award recipients are: JOHN G. DANIEL, executive director, Girls Hope and Boys Hope; GREG WILLIAMS JR., founding artistic director, New Venture Theatre; WENDELL JAMES, HIV/AIDS counselor,  Bernard Taylor Jr., East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Superintendent; JASON GARDNER, owner, Vivid Images Graphics and Printing; MICHAEL W. MCCLANAHAN, NAACP President; KEITH RICHARD,pastor,  Elevate Church; JARVIS BROWN, CEO Executive; TONYA G. ROBERTSON, executive director,The Young Leaders Academy.



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  • The Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission to host Sweet Rewards Contest

    The search for delicious sweet potato recipes is back and better than ever.  The Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission, along with Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine, is hosting its 10th annual Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest for fresh, frozen and canned sweet potatoes.

    All chefs are invited to enter their original recipes in the professional category. Recipes should include fresh, frozen or canned yams. There is no entry fee or limit of entries per individual. The contest organizers hope to show sweet potatoes’ versatility in a wide range of dishes.

    The contest will kick off January 1 with final entries being due June 1, 2014. One overall grand prize winner will be awarded $1,000. Additional winners from each of the categories will receive $500.

    Finalists’ recipes will be prepared by culinary students from the Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge, which will also serve as the new location for the contest. A respected panel of food-industry professionals will judge recipes based on overall flavor, texture, visual appeal and creativity.

    In addition to the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission and Louisiana Cooking Magazine, Bruce Foods and Alexia Foods will sponsor the 10th annual Sweet Rewards contest.

    The 2013 Sweet Rewards contest grand prize was awarded to Harvey Morris of Chicago, Illinois for his “Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits.”

    Winners’ names and recipes are featured in Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine’s November and December issue, as well as on their website.


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  • The Real Peoples Guide to the HCG Diet

    BATON ROUGE-Tackling head-on the myths and struggles surrounding the controversial HCG Diet, weight loss experts Patty Christopher and Geno Gambino of Baton Rouge have released their new book, The Real People’s Guide to the HCG Diet¸ revealing everyday techniques-mixed with humor and recipes.

    “Patty and Geno saved my life!” said Denise Taggart, who has Hashimoto’s disease and could not lose weight on any other program. She is one of more than 30 personal testimonies shared in the book from clients that have become the authors’ friends-who have all experienced great results on HCG.

    HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) was discovered by Dr. ATW Simeons as a “cure” for obesity in the 1940s in Europe. Available in America in recent years it has become a very popular and effective weight loss solution. When taken with certain foods (outlined in the book), the HCG triggers the body to lose fat quickly: about a pound a day.

    “In the book and in our videos, we have stories from people who have lost 48 pounds in 50 days, and now they have their friends and family changing their lives too with the HCG Diet,” says Patty, a former middle school teacher. “The names in the book have not been changed; they want you to know who they are. Our clients love us because we are not some sales people, we have lived the program too and understand the challenges of making it through one more day on a diet with chocolate staring at you.”

    The Real People’s Guide to the HCG Diet is an escort through the 50-day HCG protocol and includes testimonies, recipes, food list, and instructions for taking HCG-mixed with humor. The book is a spinoff from a series of e-newsletters Patty and Geno sends to their clients at Waist Away Weight Loss Center to provide daily support and understanding.

    These are real people, real stories, and real lives-right here in Louisiana.

    The Real People’s Guide (ISBN 978-0-9859880-2-9) is available at http://www.waistawayllc.com and on Amazon.comas a paperback and ebook. At the request of clients, the authors will soon release a 25-day version of The Real People’s Guide.

    About the Authors
    Patty is a former middle school teacher who weighed 300 pounds when she met Geno, a native of New Orleans who grew up in a family-owned restaurant which kept him morbidly obese. The pair met in Vegas and after some time together began seeking drastic weight loss options including lap band surgery. Then, they found HCG! Owners of Waist Away Weight Loss Center in Baton Rouge, Patty and Geno have lost more than 180 pounds on the HCG Diet and have helped hundreds of others accomplish the same. They are sought-after local HCG experts at health fairs and wellness workshops. They and their center have appeared on ABC-affiliate WBRZ Channel 2 “HealthLine with Phil Rainer” and “America Now”.

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  • Mega Bus Adds Runs from New Orleans

    MEGABus, the express bus company with fares from $1, has expanded into Mississippi and Tennessee with three additional routes to and from New Orleans. Travelers can leave New Orleans and go directly to Memphis, and Jackson and Oxford, Miss. MegaBus offers passengers WiFi services and power outlets with each seat.


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  • IRS Shares Three Tax Tips to Help You Save

    ALTHOUGH THE YEAR IS ALMOST OVER, you still have time to take steps that can lower your 2013 taxes.
    Taking these steps can help you save time, tax dollars, and help you save for retirement. Here are three
    year-end tips:

    1. Start a filing system. It can be as simple as saving receipts in a shoebox, or more complex like
    creating folders or spreadsheets. It’s always a good idea to save tax- related receipts and records. Keeping good records now will save time and help you file a complete and accurate tax return next year.

    2. Make charitable contributions. If you plan to give to charity,consider donating before the year ends. That way you can claim your contribution as an itemized deduction for 2013.This includes donations you
    charge to a credit card by Dec. 31,even if you don’t pay the bill until 2014. A gift by check also counts
    for 2013 as long as you mail it in December. Remember that you must give to a qualifi ed charity to
    claim a tax deduction. Use the IRS Select Check tool at IRS.gov to see if an organization is qualified.
    Make sure to save your receipts. You must have a written record for all donations of money in order to
    claim a deduction. Special rules apply to several types of property, including clothing or household
    items, cars and boats. For more about these rules see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

    3. Contribute to retirement accounts. You need to contribute to your 401(k) or similar retirement plan by Dec. 31 to count for 2013. You also have until April 15, 2014, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA and still have it count for 2013. The Saver’s Credit, also known asthe Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, helps low- and moderate-income workers in two ways.It helps people save for retirement
    and earn a special tax credit. Eligible workers who contribute to IRAs, 401(k)s or similar workplace retirement plans can get a tax credit on their federal tax return. The maximum credit is up to $1,000,$2,000 for married couples. Other deductions and credits may reduce or eliminate the
    amount you can claim.

    for more information from the IRS on how to save click here

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  • President Obama Appoints First Female Admiral

    NAVY VICE ADM. MICHELLE J. Howard has been nominated for appointment to the rank of admiral and assignment as vice chief of naval operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Howard is currently serving as deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy, N3/N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

    In 2012, Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard became the fi rst African- American woman to receive a third star in flag rank within the Defense Department when she was promoted Aug. 24. Howard is currently serving as
    deputy commander for U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

    In 2006, she waselected for the rank of Rear Admiral (lower half),[4] making her the fi rst admiral selected from the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for admiral.

    In 1999, she became the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy when she
    took command of USS Rushmore

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  • Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools to Host Workshop

    From January 16-18, the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) will host “Apply Yourself! Boot Camp” for educators, advocates and community members interested in opening a charter school at the Louisiana Resource Center for Education, 5550 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

    The two-and-a-half day program brings in national and local experts to present on a variety of important topics to help participants navigate the charter application process, including providing a broad overview of the application process and timelines, how to build a charter board, how to choose the right leader for your school, and creating a sustainable budget that will keep your school viable.

    The fee to participate is included in the cost of becoming an LAPCS School Developer Member. For additional information, including membership fees, contact Simone Green at sgreen@lacharterschools.org or at (504) 274-3627. Each member can bring and additional two people to participate.

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  • David Duke expelled from Italy for plans to ‘exterminate’ Blacks, Jews

    ITALY—ACCORDING TO REPORTS BY IB Times, former Ku Klux Klan leaders David Duke was expelled from Italy earlier this month after authorities deemed him as “socially dangerous” for he allegedly planned to set up a pan-European neo-Nazi group. IB Times wrote: A Venice court has upheld a decision to deny a permit of residence renewal to the former Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representative and holocaust denier, who was found living under false pretences near the northern town of Belluno.

    “Offi cial reliable sources have revealed [Duke] plans to establish an organization aiming to exterminate the Black and Jewish races in Europe,” the sentence read. “He was also previously arrested and expelled from the Czech Republic as suspected of promoting the launch of a movement for the suppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

    Duke was initially banned from Switzerland over his activities related to the white supremacist movement in 2009. Swiss authorities also designated him as persona non grata in all the European states including Italy.


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  • Grambing Selects Fobbs

    GRAMBLING STATE University President Frank G. Pogue and athletic director Aaron James announced the selection of Broderick Lee Fobbs as the next head coach for the university football team. Fobbs, a second generation Gramblinite, was chosen from a pool of more than 100 candidates. His appointment is pending University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors approval.


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  • ,

    Afrikan-Centered School Opens in New Orleans

    Parents and organizers gathered in front of George Washington Carver Preparatory Academy in New Orleans at the official announcement of Liberation Academy, “an Afrikan-centered public high school”.  Students recently walked off the Carver campus in protest of the school’s disciplinary policies.  Liberation Academy founder Samori Camara, Ph.D., said the academy is a homeschooling cooperative for high school students that gives parents a free, public school alternative. Classes began January 6, 2014, at the St. James AME Church on North Derbigny

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  • EBR Library Offers Free Downloads

    This year East Baton Rouge Parish Library patrons have downloaded more than 43,000 songs for free using Freegal music service. The library system recently upgraded to Freegal 2.0 and it will give patrons access to more than 6 million songs.  To take advantage of the service patrons an visit Freegal’s digital library online at www.ebprl.com  and must have a library card.

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  • Current Policies to Blame for Wealth Gap Increases

    MASSACHUSETTS—A NEW research study completed earlier this year at Brandeis University shows the dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines cannot be attributed to personal ambition and behavioral choices, but rather reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and Blacks.

    So powerful are these government policies and institutional practices that for typical families, a $1 increase in average income over the 25-year study period generates just $0.69 in additional wealth for an Black household compared with $5.19 for a white household. Part of this equation results from Black households having fewer opportunities to grow their savings beyond what’s needed for emergencies.

    “Public policies play a major role in widening the already massive racial wealth gap, and they must play a role in closing it,” said Thomas Shapiro,Ph.D., director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy and a principal author of the report.

    The study, “The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide,” was conducted by the IASP. The research followed nearly the same 1,700 working-age households over what is now a 25-year  period, from 1984 to 2009 to understand what happens to the wealth gap over the course of a generation and the effect of policy and institutional decision making on how average families accumulate wealth.

    The new study found the wealth gap almost tripled from 1984 to 2009, increasing from $85,000 to $236,500. The median net worth of white households in the study has grown to $265,000 over the 25-year period compared with just $28,500 for Black house- holds. The dramatic increase in the racial wealth gap has accelerated despite the country’s movement beyond the Civil Rights era into a period of legal equality and the election of the first Black president.

    The resulting toxic inequality now threatens the U.S. economy and indeed, American society, the study concludes. Researchers were able to statistically validate five fundamental factors that together account for two-thirds of the proportional increase in the racial wealth gap.

    Those five factors include the number of years of home ownership; average family income; employment stability, particularly through the Great Recession; college education, and family financial support and inheritance.

    “And what these particular factors provide is compelling evidence that various government and institutional policies that shape where we live, where we learn and where we work propel the large majority of the widening racial wealth gap,” said Shapiro.

    Each of the factors highlights a number of specific reasons that whites and Blacks accumulate wealth at different rates. When it came to housing, for example, home equity rose dramatically faster for whites due to the following: White families buy homes and start acquiring equity eight years earlier than Black families. Due to historical wealth advantages, white families are far more likely to receive family assistance or an inheritance for down payments.

    The ability to make larger up-front payments by white homeowners lowers interest rates. Residential segregation places an artificial ceiling on home equity in non- white neighborhoods. Based on these and other historical factors, the home ownership rate for white families is 28 per- cent  higher.

    “The report shows in stark terms that it’s not just the last recession and implosion of the housing market that contributed to widening racial wealth disparities,” said Anne Price, director of the Closing the Racial Wealth

    Gap Initiative at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. “Past policies of exclusion, such as discriminatory mortgage lending, whichcontinues today, ensure that certain groups reap a greater share of all America has to offer while others are left out.”

    The report recommends that policymakers take steps such as strengthening and enforcing fair housing, mortgage and lending policies; raising the minimum wage and enforcing equal pay provisions; investing in high-quality childcare and early childhood development, and overhauling preferential tax treatments for dividend and interest income and the home mortgage deduction.






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  • Judge Rules in Favor of Inmates

    A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS RULEDTHAT conditions on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola are,in fact, too hot in warm weather and constitute cruel and unusual punishment.The ruling means prison leaders at Angola will have to devise a way to cool cells and keep temperatures less than 89 degrees. This is the result of a lawsuit fi led by three death row inmates who com-plained of dangerously hot conditions.  Three con-demned inmates fi led a lawsuit last summer claiming the death row conditions were unsafe. A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said the state plans to appeal the ruling

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    Southern Inducts New Members to Sports Hall of Fame

    Southern University Alumni Gary Magee and Greg C. Martin were inducted into the Southern University Athletics Hall of Fame. Magee, a 1960 Southern graduate, was a running back for the Jaguars from 1955-1959.Magee is currently victim assistance coordinator for Washington Parish.Martin, who played basketball at Southern from 1997-2000 is the academic coordinator for football at the University of Missouri.

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  • Oschner brings Dr. Gia Tyson, hepatologist, to transplant institute

    Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Institute recently welcomed new hepatologist, Dr. Gia Tyson, to their staff.

    Tyson, a native of Louisiana, earned her medical degree at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD and her fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.  Most recently, Dr. Tyson completed an advanced Fellowship in Transplant Hepatology co-sponsored by Tulane University and Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, LA.  Dr. Tyson has contributed to numerous research publications focusing on Hepatitis C and liver cancer.

    She is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. She will be practicing general hepatology, transplant hepatology and gastroenterology at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans and Baton Rouge during the following days and time:  The Ochsner Liver Center – Baton Rouge Ochsner Health Center – Summa (Bluebonnet Blvd) 9001 Summa Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA  70809 Tuesdays and Fridays 8 am – 5pm Wednesdays 1:20 pm – 5 pm • The Ochsner Liver Center – New Orleans Ochsner’s Multi-Organ Transplant Institute   1514 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70121 Thursdays 9 am – 5 pm  


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    ‘Gift of Christmas’ Giveaway Benefits More Than 200 Families

    The true meaning of Christmas resounded loudly, Monday, December 16 at the Interdenominational Faith Assembly Church, during State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow’s 8th annual “District 29 – The Gift of Christmas Giveaway, wheremore than 275 children and their parents stood wide-eyed with excitement awaiting the arrival of Santa. This years’ giveaway was held in honor of Trevor Sims, the young boy who passed away in October of cancer, who even through his sickness made it his last dying wish to feed the hungry in the area.

    Trevor’s mother, Allison Sims, was also honored and presented with a commendation from the Louisiana House of Representatives for Trevor’s life’s work. “It amazes me that everyone is so touched by Trevor’s legacy, and his heart for people,” said Allison Sims. “That’s the way he lived his life and that’s who he was; he was selfless and thinking of others so it’s always like a reminder of him to see other people help each other.”

    Representative Barrow said, “There’s no doubt that Trevor lived a life that represented a true spirit of giving. It meant so much to me to honor him and his last wish, in giving to others in need.” U.S. Senator Landrieu also acknowledged Trevor’s contribution by letter and the Metro Council recently re-named a bridge in his honor.93

    Of the 300 toys on hand, the night concluded with more than 275 kids receiving a gift. The additional 25 toys were distributed to a local women’s shelter and various families that called in for assistance.Over 87 different families were present and more than 400 people in attendance received a wonderful meal.
    “The love and generosity among families, friends and neighbors here is what the spirit of Christmas is all about. I look across the room at the smiles on these children’s faces and feel humbled that because I have been elected to serve the 29th District, I can make the holidays a little brighter for the children and their families,” said Barrow. “Every child deserves to have a Merry Christmas, so this event is one way to ensure that needy children have a gift to open this holiday season.”

    111In an outpouring of seasonal generosity, individuals and organizations in the community donated financial resources and new toys in the weeks leading up to this holiday event. These sponsors were: Glen Oaks Security Dads;  Interdenominational Faith Assembly,  who hosted the event; Alejandro Perkins, Esq.; Coca Cola; Table is Bread;  Wal-Mart;  Albertsons;  Young Educated Males Against Drugs and Violence;  AFL-CIO;  and the Redevelopment Authority.

    Several exhibitors were also on hand to provide valuable information to participants. They were: Volunteers of America; Metro Health; BREC;  Anna Jones of State Farms Insurance;  Angels of Empowerment; and Family Roads of Greater Baton Rouge.

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  • Baton Rouge Pioneers: Black Women Break into Newsrooms


    In celebration of Women’s History Month, we looked into our own industry to find the presence of Black women in news. Today, there are 13 Black female journalists and news producers in Baton Rouge who have followed the path chartered by three phenomenal pioneers. Here are their stories:

    During the same span of five years in the late 1970s, Yvonne Campbell, Genevieve Stewart, and Maxine Crump were on the path to becoming the first Black women of news-even though that wasn’t their intentions. Crump, a native of Maringouin, was a graduate of LSU’s office administration program and working as a secretary at a Baton Rouge chemical plant. Campbell had left the city and began teaching journalism in Tensaw parish. And Stewart, a Fisk graduate, was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Development at Dillard University in New Orleans. By the end of the decade, they would be pioneers in the news and control rooms of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, Citadel Broadcasting, and WAFB Channel 9.

    “I wasn’t thinking about being the first or being a pioneer,” said Crump “I was focused on doing my job and doing it well.” Stewart said she was interested in radio and news but never thought to pursue it as a career. But, Campbell was enamored with writing and newspapers as young as six years old. “I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” said Campbell Born to politically active parents, both Stewart and Crump remembers family discussions centered on current events and national issues especially about the escalating civil rights movement.

    With regular house guests like professors from Oberlin College, Zelma George who was an alternate delegate to the United Nations, and NAACP National Director Walter White, Stewart saw firsthand the value of questioning international and local issues. “I grew up in an adult household where things like these were discussed all the time,” she said. Much like Stewart’s parents, Crump’s mother and father hosted many lively conversations mostly centered on politics and news. “I was always interested in people’s conversations,” she said. “My entire family is full of great storytellers.”

    It is her storytelling-and voice-that most Baton Rouge residents found dynamic when Crump first begin hosting Channel 9′s morning show. Robert Rene who was a photojournalist with Channel 9 at the time recommended her for the job. Crump said Rene and the late Ed Buggs who worked at Channel 2 encouraged her to take the job at Channel 9-and ultimately becoming the first Black female reporter there.

    ‘This is Jazz’

    At 24, Maxine Crump was independent, bold, and working in what had been seen as a highly successful career for women. “During those times, you were encouraged to be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary.” Crump-who taught herself to type-was a secretary, but on Sunday nights her voice piped through Greater Baton Rouge’s radio waves through the city’s number 1 Urban Station Q106.5FM. “This is Maxine Crump. And. This is jazz,” became her opening billboard. A

    fter a year hosting a Sunday jazz show on Q106FM, she moved to at WFMF, playing hard rock, blues, and British rock. Managers with Channel 9 offered Crump a job in the newsroom. “At this time a lot of the media outlets were looking for diversity,” she said. “I was very much reluctant.” Although she was well-known because of radio work, she said she was still hesitant to take the job because she enjoyed being “incognito”. ” I really didn’t want to go to television at all.” “I knew I could deliver it but I didn’t think I could write it,” said this pioneer who pushed her way from secretarial duties of filing film to doing stand-up reporting and anchoring the station’s morning show-while facing racism and sexism. “I was out to prove I could cut it,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking (about being a) pioneer at all.” The ratings showed she was the most popular reporter in the newsroom. “At that time you also had to be reporter, the writer, and the producer,” said Rene who recalls Crump handling all facets of news production. “She was the very first, and she was dynamic all around,” he said. One hallmark of success came when she realized that Black viewers were proud to have her representing them on television. After 13 years in the newsroom, Crump moved into public affairs, producing video projects on life issues ranging from poverty and racism to town meetings, festivals, and continuing education. She also worked with BET and interviewed David Duke during his run for governor.

    Her reputation as a great storyteller has followed her for four decades of news reporting and video production. Today, the city’s first Black woman of television news owns Success Communication and is executive director of the YWCA’s Dialogue on Race, which pushes an open discussion on institution racism. “I was very blessed to have had the opportunity to reach the community profile and status through television. It’s definitely empowered me to knock on doors and move this thing forward,” she said.

    Her message to Black journalists: “Get the truth about the history,” she said. “When you really know the truth, it really does make you free. Free to act in a right and principled manner.”

    Starting with Debates

    “For some reason, I was drawn to radio,” said Genevieve Stewart, Baton Rouge’s first Black female in talk radio. With no journalism degree or experience, she would take a career path through institutional fundraising and motherhood before landing her first job in television-then came her passion: radio. A fearless and skilled debater in college, Stewart won awards for spontaneous and extemporaneous speaking at Lorraine Community College, beating Case Western and Oberlin before winning second in national championships. “I had those skills, those interests of current events, (beginning) when I was old enough to read,” she said. “My dad made us read Time magazine every week and discuss it at the dinner table. It was requisite.”

    After attending Lorraine, Stewart went on to complete a degree in political science at Fisk before marrying and moving to Louisiana. Turned away from a NBC-affiliate for a broadcasting job inNashville (she was told to come back after she removed her braces), Stewart began working in fundraising as a Ford Foundation Fellow in Development at Fisk, then Vanderbilt and Dillard universities. She and husband, Louis, moved to Baton Rouge to start and work in his anesthesiology practice. She was invited to participate in the annual LPB telethon. That led to her later being asked to be a co-producer and host of LPB’s “Folks” show, a one-hour weekly broadcast of state news. “I said ‘I can’t do that!” she said. “I can stand up and ask for money but I can’t do that.” But she did do the show and did it well for nearly five years. “I did enjoy TV. I enjoyed being able to tell as story in pictures. And to be able to go around the state and interview people who I felt had something to contribute to the critical masses to getting a message out,” she said.

    A lover of history, Stewart said she found the stories of Louisianans fascinating, including the history of the Freed People of Color, sociology of Patwah, creole language and dialects of French-speaking people. She left LPB to pursue a master’s degree in communications at Southern University. While there, she produced short documentaries and an instructional series for LPB on Louisiana Black history called “North Star”.

    Even with the vibrant stories and the imagery television and video offered, Stewart said she was still hooked to radio. Her entrance into radio came after she was vocal at lunch hosted by the Baton Rouge Chamber that included an audience of mostly Black leaders. “I was tired of being placated and being talked down to,” she said. “And I stood up and said so.” Unknowing to her, an owner of Citadel Broadcasting who owned three radio stations at that time, was listening. Peter Moncrieff called Stewart and invited her to the station to host Hank Spann’s “Question of the Day” morning show. She took the job and within weeks she was number one in the morning drive and her show had national and local advertisements. The ad rates doubled in the first year and sold out three months in advance. “Guy Brody was on 94.1FM and was number 1 in the 18-25 market and I was number 2 in that market.” she said. In her demographics, 25-55 year-old listeners, she was consistently number one.

    “We had the morning drive!” even with the competition of nationally syndicate radio show broadcasting on the station. She said she saw herself as an advocate and a journalist which was easier for her in talk radio than in television. “I was an advocate who could follow the rules of journalism,” she said. There were issues, however, that she would find herself distinctly in the role of advocate. For example, she was one of eight plaintiffs in the Glasper Civil Right Suit that called for the metro council to bail out the city’s bus system. She knew from studying history that her advocacy, especially through media, was dangerous. “I knew about the coercion that can take place,” she said. As a result, she very carefully handled sources’ privacy and anonymity when necessary.

    She registered as an independent voter and cleared any financial debts. “I wanted to be free to tackle any topics without anyone pulling my strings,” she said. “The Question of The Day with Genevieve Stewart” became a powerful voice for Blacks in the city. “The spontaneity of it; the immediacy of the moment; the fact that you could tackle more controversial issues; and The fact that you are on the air five to seven hours a week,” she said were reasons why she was hooked and why, unfortunately, she literally worked herself “in the ground”. In May 1999, moments after her live show, she began feeling symptoms of heart problems. Her husband sent an ambulance for her at the station and waited her arrival at the hospital; she had suffered a mild stroke and was now off the air indefinitely. Shauna Sanford, who had begun co-hosting the “Question of the Day with Genevieve Stewart”, took over the show for years before leaving for a job in television.

    Stewart said it is as important for Black journalists today to make a very conscious decision to distinguish themselves as “Black journalists” or “journalist” only. Now that she has recovered, Stewart said she is looking at opportunities to return to advocacy. “There’s a lot to be done,” she said.

    First graduate, twice first reporter

    Writing was an everyday activity for Yvonne Campbell. Starting at a very young age, she penned poetry, stories, letters, and speeches for church. “I was fascinated by newspapers. It’s how I learned to read.” “Since elementary school, I wanted to be a writer,” she said. “I had written all my life.” In sixth grade, her poetry was selected for the graduation reading. For every group or club she participated in, she became the reporter or historian. She’d been writing speeches for church, was a teen editor for theBaton Rouge News Leader, and became editor of McKinley High School’s newspaper and yearbook, then, became the first journalism graduate from Grambling State University.

    With degree and clips in hand, Campbell went to the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate to apply for a reporter’s position. “They weren’t looking for (reporters) of my color at the time,” she said. (The only Black person in the newsroom at the time was photographer John Williams, who worked part time.) She went on to teach journalism in Tensaw parish and publish the local school board’s monthly newsletter. Her heart was still set on writing for a newspaper even with her mother, Charlotte Anderson, asking “how many Black people do you know who are reporters?…Why can’t you do something sensible?” But the time, Campbell left Grambling, there were more civil rights uprisings that news outlets needed Black reporters to cover stories.

    “At that time, there was starting to be an influx of Black journalists,” she said and she was hired as a general assignment reporter at the Tallahassee Democrat-becoming the first Black female reporter hired at the daily paper. One year she was visiting family in Baton Rouge and the Morning Advocatecame calling and offered a better salary and the opportunity to return home. “I never got into it for the money,” she said. “I decided I wanted to show them what they had missed.” She took the job and became the first Black female reporter for the Baton Rouge morning paper. In less than a year, she moved from general assignment to court reporting, covering, city, supreme, and appellate courts, DA’s and coroner’s offices, and major cases, began writing 20 -23 stories a day for the paper. To do less, meant she wasn’t doing her job, she said. But, her editor’s thought differently. “They would say I had diarrhea of the typewriter,” she said. For 12 years, she worked at the Morning Advocate along with Black journalists Ed Pratt and Cleo Allen. Journalism required more than 14 hours many days for Campbell.

    She put in eight to 10 hours following court cases, completing interviews, and investigating leads, then returned to the newsroom to complete stories before heading home to young children-one who has Asperger’s syndrome. “I worked really hard to be fair and just in my writing,” said Campbell who has retired from Southern University, “I wanted to make sure both sides were covered.” She said she loved working as a journalist and being a part of breaking and current news. “It’s a taxing job and very hard to cover that much.” Her investigative reporting earned her numerous awards and recognitions from journalism associations and the state bar association, but by 1988, “I was burned out,” she said. By then, her reputation for being fair had preceding her and opened an opportunity to chair the state parole board-a four-year job under then-Governor Buddy Roemer. By the time the job ended, Allen invited Campbell to apply at Southern University’s mass communications department as an adjunct professor. “I got an opportunity to transfer the knowledge I gained in reporting to the students,” she said. And, she did so in the classroom, as a mentor, and as adviser to the Southern Digest.

    A true journalist, Campbell could not get away from the newsroom. She also worked as managing editor for the Baton Rouge Tribune, a monthly Black newsmagazine published by the McKenna Family in New Orleans, for two years. “I miss it,” she said. “I realize that the younger generation need to step up.” During the era that she was reporting, it was important to be Black first, then a journalist, she said. “Although you kept your feelings out of it, there were some stories I could affect as a Black female. That is more true then, than now.” She remembers pushing against stories that unnecessarily identified criminals as Black and photographs of Blacks in the Advocate that were racist.

    She also had to defend a few of her stories, but never thought she was making history as a journalism pioneer. “It never crossed my mind,” she said. She frequently looks through newspapers with “a jaundice eye, dissecting articles right away.” For now, she said, that’s enough journalism for her. She has retired from the university after leaving for medical reason but plans to continue writing and hopes that she has left a legacy for being a fair and impartial reporter.

    Blazing the trail

    Campbell, Stewart, and Crump tilled the path of exceptional journalism and set the bar for Black women anchors, personalities, and reporters in Baton Rouge.

    Today, there are more than two dozen Black women journalists and news producers who have followed their paths. Although there is currently no Black female reporter at the Baton Rouge Advocate, Cleo Allen, Leah Bennett, Frances Spencer, and Chante Warren have worked full time for the paper. In television, Dorothy Kendrick is the Black female producer and Shauna Sanford is a reporter at Louisiana Public Broadcasting. At WAFB Channel 9 are Michelle McCalope, reporter and web producer, and reporters Kelsey Davis and Tyana Williams. WBRZ Channel 2 has morning show producer Cheryl Story, producer Michelle Harrington, 2une In planning producer Jillian Washington, anchor Sylvia Weatherspoon, and reporter Olivia LaBorde. The Black female radio producers are LaTangela Sherman of Cumulus Radio, Jacqui Griffin of WTQT 94.9FM, Missy Gordon of MissyRadio.com. WJBO 1150AM’s talk news host is Karen Henderson, formerly of WRKF 89.3FM. In print, Francheska Felder is editor of Swagher magazine. (Read more about these women at www.jozefsyndicate.wordpress.com)

    Even with the growth of Blacks in journalism, these pioneers agree there need to be more Black news reporters covering the pulse of the community; and where there are none, “Demand it,” said Stewart.

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    Meet the Doc McStuffins of Hammond, Zachary, Baton Rouge and Monroe

    In 2001 Disney introduced the world to The Proud Family, a cartoon centered on an African American family; headed by Oscar, a snack manufacturer and Trudy, a veterinarian. During the show’s air, two African American women from Louisiana were working towards becoming veterinarians. Something they said they never dreamed of, mostly because of its lack of representation in the black community, especially in Louisiana.

    Fast forward to 2012, and Disney once again brings us an inspirational show for black girls with Doc McStuffins. The series, which is in its second season, shows a brown cartoon girl playing make-believe veterinarian, operating on her stuffed animals. The show is wildly popular and has lots of girls desiring to become veterinarians.

    Now reality, Louisiana, which is the 25th most populous state of the union, is home to only six black, female veterinarians. All of the women completed her undergraduate studies at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge and received her D.V.M. from the School of Veterinarian Medicine at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Three of the women are practicing veterinarians, one of them is in academia and two of them work for the government.

    An avid fan of Doc McStuffins and veterinarian hopeful, nine-year-old Samiya J. Phillips said she has been interested in treating animals since she was three. She said she learns from the cartoon, but wishes she could go on field trips and ask real life vets questions and see more women working as vets.future mcstuf

    “I think there should be more girls that take care of animals, because you really have to have caring heart , Phillips said. “Maybe there should be more schools to teach you more about being a veterinarian and field trips [so I can] ask a lot of questions on how they take care of animals and what kind of tools [are used] for animals.”

    Renita Woods Marshall, D.V.M. has been an associate professor of animal science at SUBR and the SU Ag Center resident veterinarian for six years. She said she always knew she wanted to become a doctor, but never dreamed she’d be a veterinarian, or a professor. Marshall, who grew up in rural Pelican, said she has always been around animals and agriculture. She decided to bring her degree home to work so she could help build the future of veterinarians in Louisiana, in particularly to inspire girls like Phillips.

    “I could have gone anywhere, but I decided to come back here and work in academia, and I look at as somebody made the sacrifice for me; somebody was teaching me, so I felt like I could come back and give to the next generation that’s coming in behind me,” Marshall said. “I’m so proud because two of my students are in veterinarian school right now and I have another one that’s getting ready to go next year. It makes me feel good to see that I’m training them up.”mcstuf1

    Marshall said she encourages her students to come back to Louisiana upon graduating from veterinarian school, in hopes of increasing the number of black, female veterinarians in this state. Two of her three vet school students are black females.

    “They’ve [former students] thought about coming back and they’re all from Louisiana,” Marshall said. “They’ve been in vet school for a couple of weeks and one of the courses is introduction to veterinarian medicine, and that’s exposing them to all the different fields that go along with it. And, a lot of them are like ‘you know, I may end up working at a university’ and I say ‘see, you just never know!’”

    Another one of Louisiana’s Doc McStuffins is Tyra Davis. Davis is from New Iberia and grew up around farms. While she said she never planned to become a veterinarian, she said she believes strongly in the phrase bloom where you are planted. She has now been a medical director and veterinarian at Hammond Animal Hospital and Pet Lodge for ten years.

    mcstuff 2

    “I grew up in a rural area and my family was sugarcane farmers so I spent a lot of time on the farm, but never did I have the desire to become a vet because I never saw a black veterinarian,” Davis said.

    Upon graduating from high school with a very high GPA, Davis was offered a scholarship to attend SUBR. When choosing a major, she was encouraged to pursue animal science and found that she enjoyed the classes. After a summer internship at the University of Missouri, she was sold on becoming a veterinarian. Now with the success of Doc McStuffins, she said she’s proud to see a show with the interest of inspiring young girls to start asking questions about the pursuit of careers in medicine.

    “When I grew up, I didn’t know any veterinarians who looked like me, let alone a woman veterinarian; I didn’t even have a woman pediatrician,” Davis said. “It just goes to show you how far we’ve come. It’s good for young girls in general, but especially African American girls to have a positive image and something to open the conversation about a profession, and especially about my profession.”

    Both Marshall and Davis agreed that it is important to encourage youth who are interested in becoming veterinarians and said they recommend Louisiana students look into undergraduate studies at LSU or SUBR because of the very hands-on approach offered. Both women also give lots back to their community through organizational memberships, speaking engagements and mentoring. They make it known how important they feel it to be for students to bring their degrees back home, as they, along with Tasha Thomas, Evoicia Collins, Leah LeBouf and Andrea Poole, the other Louisiana’s Doc McStuffins, look forward to the number of mcstuf 3black, female veterinarians in the state to increase.

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    State Rep. Herbert Dixon resigns

    wpid-wp-1418331131236.jpegALEXANDRIA–State Representative Herbert Dixon, who chairs the Louisiana House Labor committee, has resigned. In an official statement, Dixon writes,

    “I am honored to have served the citizens of District 26 for the last seven years, however I have notified the Speaker of the House that as of December 10, 2014, I have resigned this seat to better manage my health situation, spend more time with family, and pursue other opportunities.

    I’ve served our state and our district in the House of Representatives for nearly a decade and do not resign this position of trust lightly or with little thought.

    It is my hope that I step down from this position having fulfilled the needs of my constituents and my colleagues in the House. It has been a pleasure to work alongside Speaker (Chuck) Kleckley and my fellow members to help Louisiana thrive.”

    “I and the members of the House of Representatives wish Representative Dixon the best of luck in his future endeavors. He worked hard to fight for the needs of our state, but was especially dedicated to his constituents in District 26,” said Kleckley.

    To fill this seat, the Speaker has called a special primary election to be held Saturday, February 21, 2015, with a qualifying period commencing on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 and ending at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 9, 2015.

    Dixon is a native of Alexandria, Louisiana. He is married to Janet Hartwell Dixon and they have 5 children.

    He graduated from Peabody High School in 1967. Representative Dixon received his B.S. Degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA in 1971. As an honorable sailor in the U.S. Navy, he earned a Yeoman Class “A” Certificate in San Diego, CA in 1972. He went on to further studies at George Washington University in 1973. He earned a master’s degree in education from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA in 1975. He has accumulated thirty hours above a the master’s from Northwestern University in Natchitoches, LA .

    In 1992, Representative Dixon was elected to Rapides Parish School Board where he represented District “D” for fifteen Years. In 2007, He was elected to the Louisiana Legislature Representative District 26. During this time, Representative served on the House Education Committee, House and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Transportation, Highways, and Public Works Committee. In 2012, Representative Dixon went in unopposed for a second term and is currently serving as Chairman of Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and is also a member of the Commerce Committee. Representative Dixon is currently a member of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, Louisiana Democratic Caucus and Louisiana Rural Caucus.

    Representative Dixon’s Community Affiliations include being a member of the Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Cenla’s Best, a member of the Rapides Democratic Executive Committee, Warhorse Tailgate Association, Inc., Southern University Alumni Association and the D.A. Anderson Scholarship Committee.

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  • Celebrate the Babies of 2013


    For only $30 your new son, daughter, or grandchild will be included in a special directory of 2013 Babies. This is a once- in-a-lifetime keepsake opportunity you’lltreasure for years to come.  The publication date is January 27, 2014. All photos and information must be received in our office no later than January 20, 2014. Complete this form and upload a photo


    Baby‘s Name______________________________________________________


    Born _____________________________________________________________


    Weight, Length_____________________________________________________


    Parent’s Names_____________________________________________________






    ____ I will mail a check to POBox 40864 Baton Rouge, LA 70835


    ____ I will pay here

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  • In Case You Missed It

    A new issue of the Drum Newspaper is out and available to the community now. In the issue you will find community news such as:

    How  your elected leaders feel about the possible incorporation  St. George:

    The Southern University Jaguars win their first SWAC championship in 10 years and because of that extended coach Odums’ contract.

    Senator Karen Carter Peterson invites students to testify on issues they face in education.

    and so much more community news.


    The Drum Newspaper: “Because Community News Matters”

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  • Study Shows Kids Are Less Fit than Their Parents Were

    An analysis of studies on millions of children around the world finds they don’t run as fast or far as their parents did when they were young.

    On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their parents did 30 years ago. For children ages nine to 17 heart related fitness has go down five percent since 1975.

    Health experts recommend that children six and older get 60 minutes of moderately vigorous activity accumulated over a day. Only one third of American Kids do now.

    The new study led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia. Researchers analyzed 50 studies on running and fitness- a key measure of cardiovascular health and endurance- involving 25 million children ages nine to 17 in 28 countries from 1964 to 2010.

    The study measured how far the children could run in five to 15 minutes and how quickly they ran a certain distance, ranging from half a mile to two miles. The study concluded that today’s kids are 15 percent less fit than their parents were.

    The decline in fitness seems to be leveling off in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and possibly in North America. However, it continues to fall in China, and Japan never had much of a fall off-fitness has remained consistent there.

    About 20 million of the 25 million were from Asia.

    Experts and educators blame obsession with academic testing scores for China’s competitive college admissions as well as a proliferation of indoor entertainment options like gaming and web surfing on a decline.

    In the United States too much time watching television and playing video games and unsafe neighborhoods with not enough options for outdoor play  also play a role in children’s amount of fitness.

    World Health Organization numbers suggest that 80 percent of young people globally may not e getting enough exercise.

    Read more »
  • Affordable Health Care Act offers more Options to HIV Patients

    DECEMBER 1, MARKED THE 25TH OBSERvance of World AIDS Day. It was a reminder of how far we have come since 1981 when several previously healthy gay men in

    Los Angeles were found to be infected with a mysterious and fatal immune deficiency. In the three decades since, the disease has claimed more than

    35 million lives and has become a global pandemic. The World Health Organization reports that 35.3 million people worldwide are living with HIV today.

    But, according to the United Nations, “New HIV infections among adults and children were estimated at 2.3 million in 2012, a 33% reduction since 2001…AIDS-

    related deaths have also dropped by 30% since the peak in 2005 as Here in the United States, a little more than a million Americans are living with HIV infection

    today. Partly because of longer life expectancies for people with HIV, over the past decade, the number of people living with the infection in the U.S. has increased, while

    the annual number of new HIV infections has remained stable. But we should not mistake better manageability of the disease as an indication that it has become a

    minor problem.  The pace of new infections continues at far too high a level – particularly among gay men, African Americans and Latinos. And African Americans

    continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV, compared with other races and ethnicities. Blacks represent approximately 14% of the U.S. population,

    but according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they account for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections and nearly

    half (44% ) of people living with HIV infection. Since the epidemic began, more than 260,800 Blacks have died of AIDS. Unless the course of the epidemic changes, at

    some point in their lifetime, an estimated 1 in 16 Black men and 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection. But more help than ever before is available, in-

    cluding new benefi ts in the Afford-able Care Act that remove barriers to insurance coverage, and provide better coverage options for many people living with HIV.

    Starting January 1, 2014, no one can be denied health insurance or charged more because of a pre-existing health condition, such as HIV. Insurers will also no longer be

    allowed to limit how much they will spend on a person’s medical care–over a year or a lifetime, including people living with HIV. And plans sold through the health

    insurance marketplaces must provide a minimum set of benefits that should prove helpful for HIV care, including prescription drugs, doctor visits, hospital care, mental

    health care and certain preventive services, including HIV tests. The National Urban League also remains a major source of help. We are a partner organization

    in the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative. It’s a five-year national campaign to combat complacency about HIV and AIDS in the United States. Urban League affiliates

    around the country also offer HIV awareness services and campaigns in their local communities. While much progress has been made, the fight against AIDS is not over

    Read more »
  • Suit filed to Change District 2

    Three Louisianas are suing  the state in federal court, saying a panel of judges should redraw Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District because it unlawfully con-

    centrates black voters in one area and diminishes their political clout in the process. The suit was filed by Yvonne and Leslie Parms and Maytee Buckley, residents of the

    2nd District, on Nov. 25 in the Middle District Court in Baton Rouge. Christopher Whittington, a capital area lawyer and former head of the state Democratic Party, is

    acting as counsel for the plaintiffs. According to court documents, prenatal and parenting classes, links with local medical clinics, and information on adoptions and

    maternity homes.  The alliance provides information to pregnant women and women who think they may be pregnant between the ages of 18 to 30 and their

    male partners to ensure healthy full-term pregnancies, rather than abortions. It is funded by the Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services and administered by Family Values Resource Institute.




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  • New Venture Theater Company Hosting Auditions for Shout! the Musical

    New Venture Theater Company is casting for it’s production of Shout! the musical. Auditions will be held saturday December 21st at The Manship Theater  located at  100 LAFAYETTE ST, BATON ROUGE, LA 7080. (Inside the Shaw Center). Performances will take place February 6th-9th. Those coming to audition are asked to prepare a 90 second package consisting of a “soulful”gospel song and a comedic monologue. There will also be a short dancing/moving audition that all singers or dancers must participate in. Call backs will be held the same day at 7p.m. Contact New Venture Theater Company at 225-588-7576.


    click here  for more information and to fill out an audition form



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  • Report Finds Black Men not Fairing Better After College

    ACCORDING TO WASHINGTON D.C-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, graduating high school as well as college is no longer enough for

    Black men to receive a good paying job the offer benefits. In their “Has Education Paid Off for Black Workers?” report, Janelle Jones and John Schmitt, stated, “Between

    1979 and 2011, the share of black men with a high school degree or less fell almost by half (from 72.6 % to 43.4 %), and the share with a college degree nearly tripled (from

    8.1 % to 23.4 %). Despite this massive improvement at both ends of the education spectrum, black men overall and at every education level – less than high school, high

    school, some college but short of a four-year degree, and at least a four-year degree – are less likely to be in a good job today than three decades ago.” Center officials define

    a “good job” as one that pays a minimum of $19 per hour or $40,000 annually. “The seasonally ad- justed unemployment rate for Black men ages 20 and older is always

    higher than those of any other race or ethnic group.” In 1979, the average age of Black workers was 33, in 2011 the age rose to 39 making the Black work- force older, more

    experienced and therefore more compatible.


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  • Frazier Appointed Parish Attorney of Caddo

    Donna Frazier has been appointed parish attorney of Caddo. Frazier is the first Black female in the history of the parish to serve in this position. She was assistant parish attorney for eight years and assistant Caddo district attorney and section chief of the drug session. Frazier is a graduate of University of Texas School of Law and LSU.

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  • Monroe preachers return city’s $10,000 donation

    MONROE—The city of Monroe gave a group of local preachers $10,000 to help sponsor the 2013 Louisiana Baptist State Convention which was housed in several local facilities with an opening musical at the Monroe Civic Center this summer.

    Last month, planners of the convention from the Northeast Louisiana 2013 Host Committee stood before the city council with a $10,000 check to return the contribution.

    The Reverend Van Brass, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Rayville who chairs the committee, told the Monroe Free Press the event was so successful it contributed some $750,000 to the local economy. Brass said organizers were surprised when they had a significant surplus following the conference that they decided to “present back the money the city invested.”

    “Because you invested in us, we were successful,” Brass told the council.

    “I believe that this is the first event of its kind that money has been returned to the city,” said city council chairman Eddie Clark.

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  • Solomon Northup’s Home Opens in Alexandria

    ALEXANDRIA—The home where Solomon Northup tells of his experiences in his 1853 book, Twelve Years a Slave, opened Thursday, Nov.14  as a museum at the Louisiana State University Alexandria.

    Northup built the house with slave owner Edwin Epps who purchased him in 1843 although Northup was a kidnapped freeman who would later be rescued and returned to his family in Glens Falls, New York.

    The single story Creole cottage, called the Epps House, was originally located on Bayou Boeuf near Holmesville in Avoyelles Parish.

    The State Historical Marker near the home reads, “Built in 1852 by Edwin Epps, originally located near Holmesville on Bayou Boeuf about three miles away. From 1843 to 1853, Epps, a small planter, owned Solomon Northup, author of famous slave narrative Twelve Years A Slave.”

    Relocated to Bunkie, LA in 1976, the house was moved to the LSUA campus in 1999 and reconstructed, thanks to the effort of Sue Eakin, Ph.D., a former LSUA professor of history.

    Northup’s story in the recently released movie “12 Years a Slave” may never have made it to the big screen if not for Louisiana historians Eakin and Joseph Logsdon. Their 1968 edition of the book was well-received and became required reading at universities across the country.

    Screen-writer John Ridley, told the New York Times he leaned heavily upon their work for the movie released Oct. 18. Eakin published a final edition of her work on Northup in 2007. She died in 2009 at 90. The historical drama was shot in New Orleans.

    The exhibit will be open to the public on a weekly basis from Thursday through Sunday and from noon until 4:00pm.  It will also be open by appointment and will be free of charge to visitors.


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  • Violent Crimes Decrease in Baton Rouge


    Murder and violent crimes declined sharply in Baton Rouge in the first half of 2013 compared to 2012. Police department statistics also show a decline in property crimes also.

    The Advocate reported that the stats showed an overall decrease of more than 13 percent in crime during the first half of 2013 compared with first half of 2012. Murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and assaults- are down nearly 25 percent while property crimes- theft; burglary, auto theft and arson are down by nearly 11 percent.

    Cpl. Don Coppola Jr. said the Baton Rouge Area Violent Elimination Project and police street operations aimed at curbing violent crimes are factors in reducing crime numbers in Baton Rouge.

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  • Whey to Go Program Recruiting Women for Weight Loss Study

    The Whey to Go Program is seeking at least 15 women ages 18-40, on no medication and with Body Mass Index of above 30, to participate in an obesity project. The participants will come to the Southern University Ag center once a week for 1 hour for 24 weeks. Participants will engage in a nutrition education and physical activity class during the 1-hour that they are here at the Ag Center. The participants will take a shake/smoothie in the morning and healthy food of their choice for the rest of the day. At the end of 24 weeks they receive a check for $300.00.  To participate or for more information contact DR. Fatemeh Malekian at 225-771-0251 or fatemeh_malekian@suagcenter.com

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  • Plaquemine Native Becomes No. 1 Slam Poet in the World

    Chancelier “xero” Skidmore has attempted to craft the perfect poem for over a decade.

    A teaching artist in Baton Rouge, Skidmore has competed nationally in team and individual poetry slams for 13 years, and each individual competition he attends has him vying for the opportunity to claim the number one spot.

    On Oct. 5 in Spokane, Wash., after three previous attempts, the Plaquemine native was victorious in his quest to become the number one ranked slam poet in the world, emerging as the 2013 champion of the Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS).

    A poetry slam is an Olympic style poetry competition in which poets are scored 0-10 by five randomly selected judges for a possible high score of 30. The high and low scores of each round are then thrown out, and the middle three are added together for the final score.

    iWPS is a poetry slam festival created in 2004 by Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi). It features four preliminary rounds with poems of one, two, three and four minute lengths. The top twelve of the 72 competing poets move on to grand slam finals, and spar in a possible three rounds of three-minute poems. In the end, four poets move on to the final round with a clean slate, hoping to become number one.

    His work published in the anthology, Spoken Word Revolution Redux by Sourcebooks mediaFusion and the Spring 2010 volume of the New Delta Review by LSU Press. Executive Director of Forward Arts, Inc. and works as Program Manager/lead teaching-artist of WordPlay.

    In addition to poetry, Xero also plays percussion for a few bands and loves to hang out with his daughter in her music studio.


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  • Will M. Campbell Jr., has been selected as 2013 “Louisiana’s State Star”

    Will M. Campbell Jr., has been selected as 2013 “Louisiana’s State Star” by the Louisiana Small Business Development Center. Campbell serves as the director of LSBDC at Southern and under his leadership the program become one of the top producing centers in the state.  Campbell was honored during a private awards reception in Orlando, held in conjunction with the 33rd America’s Small Business Development Center Network Annual Conference. He is among 63 “stars” that were  chosen nationwide.

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  • Students Invited to Testify on Issues

    MONROE—Two of the most powerful women in the state of Louisiana spoke to a gathering of eight grade students urging to them to strive to make the world better.

    State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and State Rep. Katrina Jackson were in Monroe to meet with officials about education issues, but took time out to meet with those affected most by education policy: students.

    Peterson, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, and Jackson, head of the Legislative Black Caucus, are arguably two of the most powerful women in the state, yet they spent quality time touring the newly opened charter school Excellence Academy in Monroe and listening to the opinions and ideas of eight grade females.

    Peterson invited the girls to appear before her legislative committee in the spring to testify about violence, crime, and education.

    “When teachers come to Baton Rouge there were thousands who wanted to speak about how rules would effect them. No one came to speak on behalf of the students. We want you to come to Baton Rouge and tell us how the laws we make affect you.” said Peterson. She and Jackson will invite youth from other schools to join the upcoming legislative session.


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  • African-Americans Twice as Likely to Develop Heart Disease According to Study

    According to health blog, New Scientist, Black Americans are twice as likely to develop heart disease as White Americans, and a gene may be the cause, a new study has found.

    The study found that fragments circulating in the blood, known as platelets, can form blood clots, a classic element of heart disease and heart attack, more easily in African Americans.

    “Unexpectedly, we found that platelets from black donors clotted faster and to a greater extent in response to the naturally occurring clotting agent, thrombin,” says Paul Bray of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who led the work. “This provides a new understanding of the effects of race on heart disease and other blood-clot related illnesses.”

    For the study, blood samples were taken from 70 black and 84 white volunteers. It was found that the gene that produces a particular type of protein, which activates clotting, is four times more active in blacks than in whites.

    Black people are very poorly represented in most clinical studies on heart disease,” he says. “Our findings suggest doctors cannot therefore assume that heart disease treatment studies on whites will hold true for everyone.”

    An important implication, says Bray, is that we need to develop a wider array of treatments to make sure that there are drugs that work for everyone.

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  • Southern Filmmakers Expose Audiences to Zombies, Bounce and Natural Hair

    Dance Step of Death writer/director Ed Fletcher

    Dance Step of Death writer/director Ed Fletcher

    Zombies, Dubstep meet Jaguar Nation

    Ed Fletcher, a 1998 Southern University alumnus, has taken his appreciation for the Jaguar Nation into the world zombies, Dubstep, and film. The former editor of the Southern Digest is currently a reporter at the Sacramento Bee newspaper in California and has recently released his first short film “Dance Steps of Death”. Fletcher’s comedic, horror film follows six citizens who form a group of powerless super heroes to save the city of Sacramento from man-eating zombies. What influenced the film, how does Southern add value to it, and where will this lead Fletcher? We caught up with him at the Bee to find out.

    Usually when people create super heroes they give superpowers or they’re extremely wealthy, but your Adventure Patrol characters are “average Joes”. Why did create heroes that lack powers?
    It’s actually based on trend that’s going in the country right now where regular people are becoming heroes. These are people have got tired of the every day monotony and want to do some good. There are chapters of all around the country and I actually met with a couple before we began filming.

    Why did you choose to give prominence to Dubstep, a genre of music too many people know?
    I went to the Burning Man festival this year for the first time, and while there, I was exposed to different types of music and Dubstep was really popular the year I went so I decided to incorporate it into the film.

    Why does the film include Southern University paraphernalia? How does Southern University “fit” in the film?
    My original intention was go to Southern for two years and then transfer to film school but along the way I fell in love with Southern and journalism. Southern was an important time in my life and it launched me on the path I’m on today. I hope some the images of Southern in the film stays in people’s minds and maybe help someone with their college decision. I think that type of imagery is better in some cases than (recruitment) brochures or commercials.

    As a minority filmmaker do you feel there are stereotypes and typecasting you have to face?
    There is a place for films that tell especially Black stories and there is a place for films that tell stories about people who happen to be Black. Not all Black people live like Martin. We don’t need to do “Boyz in the Hood” six different ways. We can tell different stories about people who happen to be Black. You would hope White filmmakers do the same and don’t write characters based on stereotypes.

    After this debut in the industry as a producer, are you planning to do any acting?
    I’m going to stay focused on writing and producing. I think that’s what I do well in this industry. Although if someone approached me to do some acting, I would be open to it.

    More movies are being filmed in Louisiana, and it’s opening doors for more aspiring filmmakers in Louisiana. What advice would you offer them?
    You’ve got to be willing to deal with “no”. You can be easily deterred. My first two projects were rejected by a film festival and my second couldn’t come together, but you’ve got to keep trying. You really grow through getting told “no”.

    Kenna Moore exposes New Orleans Bounce

    Kenna More producer/director of Omitted

    Kenna More producer/director of Omitted

    New Orleans filmmaker Kenna J. Moore recently won the New Orleans Film Society’s Emerging Vision Award for “Omitted, her debut documentary that chronicles the fast-paced, high-energy genre of dance and music known as Bounce.
    “I chose to title the film ‘Omitted’ because this style of music and dance showcased in the film is one that gets over shadowed,” said Moore who received the award last month at the 24th Annual New Orleans Film Festival.
    “Omitted” chronicles how Bounce music and dance are deeply woven into Louisiana’s Culture and has become a way of life for local entertainers.
    “Bounce has opened so many doors for me and taken me so many places,” said nationally known Bounce dancer Shelby “Skip” Skipper. “This isn’t just a hobby. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to dance. I want to teach lessons.”
    For the documentary, Moore follows Skipper for four months and exposes the amount of energy, dedication, and creativity Skipper has put into his craft. Moore includes scenes from Skipper’s performances “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “So You Think You Can Dance”.
    Moore includes New Orleans hypeman and producer Donald “Big Choo” Morris Jr. who mentors Skipper. In 2011, Big Choo produced a Bounce remix of “Reading Rainbow” for the New Orleans public library where elementary students celebrated reading and danced with Skipper.
    It’s New Orleans stories and people like these that Moore said are the focus of her company Ghost of Elysian Films.
    She said the company produces experimental films that explore and expose “ghost” stories of New Orleans that are contrary to traditional facets of the city—like Mardi Gras, Hurricane Katrina, and Southern food—that are often found in mainstream films.
    ONLINE: www.ghostofelysianfilms.com

    Filmmaker takes natural hair internationally

    Director-producer Cindy Hurst is a native of Baton Rouge and the owner of The Sankofa Project, a film production and publishing agency developed to address cultural,

    Cindy Hurst

    Cindy Hurst

    community, and gender issues. Hurst is a summa cum laude graduate of Southern University who tours the country screening her films. “Natural Woman,” her first film produced in 2009, will be screened in Germany and the Netherlands later this year. Hurst talked with THE DRUM about her craft and how Southern still influences her work today.

    After graduating from Southern University with a degree in psychology, how did you end up the film industry?
    My first film, “Natural Woman,” was originally supposed to be a book documenting the physiological effects on women when they decide to go natural. I started taping my interviews and I liked the responses I was getting. I went out, got a camera, and began shooting. Once I had gathered the footage, I began consulting with the people I knew in the industry.

    How does a Baton Rouge native end up studying at Prague Film School in the Chez Republic in Europe?
    I enjoyed the production process of my first film so much I knew filmmaking was going to become more than just a hobby. I really wanted to immerse myself into the whole filmmaking process. Someone who was helping me with marketing suggested I screen my movies in Europe, and I began looking at schools there, too. Most of the film schools in America are three- or four-year programs. I found the Prague Film School and there I could study the same thing and take the same courses, but instead only be in school a year and walk away with same degree and credentials as I would in America. I also think studying abroad helps me stand out from other filmmakers.

    In what way did your experiences at Southern University influence your future? I took a class called African Experience. It really broke down the psychology of African people and the effects slavery had on African Americans, and it motivated me find the deeper reasoning behind some of the choices our people make. The reason Southern is so important to me and why I am so glad I went to an (historically black college) is because no matter what course I took every professor I had made sure we had an understanding of the contributions our people made to this country that weren’t always found in textbooks.

    Your work includes “Natural Woman,” “Familiar Spirit,” and “Remembering the Forgotten First: the Story of Charlie Grainger.” You’ve also published a coloring book for daughters and mothers with natural hair. How do you select projects to work on?
    The films I make have an African-American psychological thrust. I want to create films that would affect people of color. I want to touch on issues that go untouched, or history makers who have been forgotten, in the Black community, and get people talking. Sankofa, the name of my production company, is an African term that means in order to move forward you have to move back.
    I realized that through film I found a vehicle to share a lot of issues that affect the Black community. I’m currently working on “Before Baseball,” a documentary that chronicles horse racing as the first integrated professional sport. I wanted people to know that African Americans did not integrate sports with baseball, it was long before Jackie Robinson and for several decades. I’m also working on producing a film with a group of people who are visually impaired. I’m not only working production but looking for ways that someone who is blind or visually impaired can enjoy the film once it is complete.

    What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter film industry?
    That is simple; Just do it. That is exactly what I did. If you really want to do it just research and find out what you need. Don’t let anything stop you whether it is a lack of funding or someone saying you can’t; just do it.


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  • Site Helps Customers Buy Black

    PurchaseBlack.com, a new Amazon-style marketplace that specializes in selling African American products, is looking to increase the number of Black e-commerce sites by offering qualified businesses free use of their e-commerce platform. ecommerce

    PurchaseBlack.com is bridging the gap between Black online customers, and a wide array of African American focused businesses,” said Purchase Black founder Brian Williams. “To attract more Black owned businesses, we are giving them web stores–complete with their own web address–for free, and only charging a commission after the business actually makes money on our platform.“

    Purchase Black wants to attract Black-owned and Black-operated businesses; they also want to attract businesses that, while maybe not Black-owned, still have a significant Black clientele.

    “We are focused on African American products and businesses, but not at the exclusion of [everyone] else. We want [all businesses] to know that you can buy or sell African American products on PurchaseBlack.com, regardless of [their] background.”

    The company’s target businesses are small, medium, and large-sized businesses that sell hair care, skin care, art, gifts, clothing and accessories, Black greek letter organization items, and much, much more.

    “A lot of people have been waiting for something like this for a long time…and we hope that our offer will attract those businesses to sell their products on [our site],” said Williams.

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  • Nelson Mandela Dies at Age 95

    Former South African president Nelson Mandela , who served 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities and helped end racial segregation on his continent,Thursday, December 6th.

    Mandela battled South Africa’s imposed racial segregation through a combination of peaceful demonstration and through military means and was sentenced to life in prison on treason charges.

    Mandela was freed in 1989 after 27 years of hard labor in a stone quarry, when South African president F.W. de Klerk would assume power.

    Former President Mandela speaking at Southern University's Spring 2000 commencement ceromony

    Former President Mandela speaking at Southern University’s spring 2000 commencement ceremony.

    De Klerk and Mandela worked together following his release to end racial strife in South Africa; and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

    In April 1994, Mandela was elected president of South Africa. Mandela’s victory symbolized a dramatic change in South African politics and race relations.

    Mandela died at age 95. He is survived by Machel; his daughter Makaziwe by his first marriage, and daughters Zindzi and Zenani by his second.

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  • Pastor, Professor is Grateful to Teach, Study Life Nelson Mandela

    I was privileged to introduce a course at Louisiana State University called, “Malcolm, Martin, and Mandela in The Media”. This course was taught in the Manship School of Mass Communication; it was the first of it’s kind in the university community. The students were excited and I had to drum up students my first semester, but after that I always had a waiting list.

    As I write these reflections, I am reminded of the many students, who took the course and engage themselves in the legacy and thought of Nelson Mandela. This class reflected on the media and the influence it plays in the lives of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Nelson Mandela. In the African and African American Studies program, I developed a course called, “The Philosophy and Thought of Nelson Mandela”. This course centered around his early childhood until his rise to international leader. His African name means, “Shaker of Trees”, and throughout his life, he shook the foundation of an unjust society in South Africa.

    We talked about his childhood when he would play war games with his friends in the countryside. This playtime would soon develop into a philosophy and thought provoking his leadership style for later moments in his life. The students would always be puzzled by his words, “Leadership can be from behind, one always gets the faster and most nimble sheep to lead and the shepard follows.” I was fortunate to teach both courses to students at Louisiana State University, and in my teaching, I also learned that we must find something that we are willing to die for. I am passionate about teaching and I am called to teach a new generation the legacy and thought of just a leader.

    Nelson Mandela taught us how to forgive and to reconcile with even our worst enemy. He was not bitter and he changed a culture, a society, and even a nation with his dignity and passion for justice for all persons. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to teach and study the life of Nelson Mandela. I traveled to South Africa and we stopped in Cape Town, and as I looked across the ocean I thought about Nelson Mandela but I had no idea I would one day teach students about his philosophy and thought. What a wonderful blessing. Thank you, Mr. Mandela, you also shook my spirit.

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  • Kings Children to Host HIV/AIDS Forum, Dec. 13

    Community partners and Kings Children Full Gospel Church will host a HIV Community Forum, Friday, December 13, 7pm at the church located at 3024 Amarillo St, in Baton Rouge. The public is invited to attend. Contact: Eugene.Collins@LA.GOV

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  • U.S. District Judge Temporarily Restrains Release of Malcom X Diary

    U.S District judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Chicago’s third world press company from releasing a diary of Malcolm X life which he started after he left the Nation of Islam. Chicago Third World Press company said the rights was sold to them by his daughter Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, who is also the book’s co-editor along with journalist Herb Boyd. Ilyasah signed the contract with the press company as the agent for X Legacy (a company formed in 2011 to protect Malcolm X and his wife Dr. Betty Shabazz assets). In addition to deciding if Ilyasah had the jurisdiction to release the rights to her father diary the judge must also decide if Third World Press has the right to publish the diary.

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  • Be an Art Vendor at the 2014 Baton Rouge Blues Festival

    The 2014 Baton Rouge Blues Festival is accepting new applicants for our Arts Market vendors in the categories of painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, glass, metal, wood, leather, mixed media, and other media. Applications will be accepted between December 1, 2013 and January 15, 2014. A jury will review the applications and selected vendors will be announced via the Baton Rouge Blues Festival website, batonrougebluesfestival.org, by February 1, 2014. There is a non-refundable $20 application fee. Vendor participation fees of $125 are due no later than March 15, 2014. All proceeds go to the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that produces the festival. Application requirements and rules can be found at batonrougebluesfestival.org/art-vendor.html

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  • ,

    St. George Incorporation Public Meeting Scheduled for Thursday Dec.12th

    The Committee to Incorporate the City of St. George will hold an important public meeting / town Hall on Thursday, December 12th from 6:30pm – 7:30pm at Woodlawn Baptist Church.

    Guest Speaker: Shreveport native C. L. Bryant is an outspoken Baptist minister, radio host, television host, former president of the NAACP’s Garland, Texas Chapter and creator of the current hit documentary Runaway Slave.

    Senator Mac ‘Bodi’ White
    Norman Browning

    The purpose of this meeting is to:
    - Update the public with our progress to date
    - Inform the public of our plans for 2014.
    - Address inaccuracies/misconceptions in the media.
    - Answer current frequently asked questions.
    - Allow the public to sign the petition.

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  • Elected Officials Speak on Possible St. George Incorporation

    We believe that we can set a model, not only for the state of Louisiana [but also] a model of governance for the United States of America that many other cities can follow.

    Lionel Rainey, a spokesman for the St. George effort – The Times-Picayune

    By: Leslie D. Rose – The Drum Reporter

    BATON ROUGE-This month Baton Rouge made national and world news as a headliner in various media outlets regarding the possible incorporation of St. George. And while a story about the potential creation of a new city within the capital city may spark national hyperbole, local reports and representatives say the buzz is not totally inaccurate.

    The boundaries for the proposed city of St. George would cover about 85 square miles, including all of the unincorporated part of the parish south of Baton Rouge. But with such a pushback from surrounding communities, one has to question how what Rainey has spoken on would create a solid model for the country or state, no less the city. Based on responses from local politicians, the facts are only in the favor of the proposed St. George City.

    Here we will explore the various headlines regarding the potential incorporation infused with facts and thoughts from respected state, city and school board leaders.

    Headline: St. George incorporation petitions hit East Baton Rouge Parish – WBRZ.com

    Fact: Supporters of the proposal say they have half the 18,000 signatures needed to get their scheme on the next ballot

    The campaign to create the city of St. George began in September. Organizers, frustrated by the struggling schools in East Baton Rouge Parish, had tried twice to get approval from the legislature to create their own school district and break away from EBRPSS. When they were blocked both timesand after opponents said they shouldn’t get their own school district because they weren’t their own citythey decided to incorporate. They see it as an opportunity to create both a city and a school district that will be smaller, more efficient, and more responsive to residents’ needs.


    Representative Patricia Haynes-Smith

    Representative Patricia Haynes-Smith, District 67

    “I am not in favor of the proposed city. I honestly believe that because of the revenue issue, it will definitely impact the city of Baton Rouge and the services provided. There are so many questions to be answered such as: the sewer project, the green light projects, law enforcement services that if the ‘City of St. George’ contracts with the sheriff ‘s dept. there is a strong possibility of taxes going up in that area. But proponents believe that isn’t the case. And this is not just predicated on law enforcement, it’s all services a city needs.  

    This has all come about over the school system not passing and the fact that the group refused to factually deal with the legacy costs they would burden EBR with. There is no guarantee that if a city is formed that the school system is approved. It still will require 70 votes to pass.

    It is quite interesting in how the lines were drawn as well. Questions should be on many citizens’ minds on the reasons certain areas were not pulled in. One has but to go back to the videos of the bill being vetted in education committee and hear the comments of some of the citizens who testified that they did not want certain children in their schools.” said State Rep.Patricia Haynes Smith, District 67.

    Headline: Fiscal issues grim if BR loses St. George – The Advocate

    Fact: St. George would take with it two malls that provide Baton Rouge with 40 % of its sales tax revenue which would create a $53 million budget shortfall for Baton Rouge.

    The proposed city of St. George would cost the city-parish government $85 million, or 30 %, of its annual general fund revenue according to a Dec. 1 report conducted by LSU economist – commissioned by BRAC and BRAF. Even if the city-parish government reduced its per-capita spending to account for the drop in population, it would still face a budget shortfall of $53 million each year. Since 29 % of the general fund goes to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the report findings conclude that the city-parish government would be forced to reduce police services within the Baton Rouge city limits and remaining unincorporated areas.


    Representative Chauna Banks-Daniel District 2

    Representative Chauna Banks-Daniel, District 2

    “Due to the disproportion of concentration placed on increased economic development in the southern part of the city-parish and not in the northern part, there are unfair constraints with respect to business, housing, education and recreational activities. The proposed City of St. George places an unfavorable or disadvantageous impact of law enforcement and other public services. This action would actively be harmful for my constituent’s quality of life. My concerns about this proposal [are] that it will result in higher taxes and fewer services for low-and moderate-income people,” said Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel (District 2).


    Representative Regina Ashford Barrow, District 29





    I am against the St. George breakaway measure because of the numerous negative consequences it would have on Baton Rouge. Leaders of the “Incorporate St. George” movement indicate that one of the main purposes of the St. George breakaway is to “keep some of the tax dollars that are in this area, in this area.” However, this notion is based on the flawed presumption that those within the immediate vicinity only support all of the businesses in the proposed St. George area and that’s not true. To this point, the Mall of Louisiana and Perkins Rowe are supported by the entirety of Baton Rouge not just local individuals. Ironically, the infrastructure for this retail center was built with tax dollars from the entirety of Baton Rouge. I’m against for the following reasons: Because of the fiscal impact it will have on the city of Baton Rouge as currently constituted. The sales tax dollars that currently support the local parish government would be greatly diminished because of a reduced tax base; Because of the negative impact it will have on the remaining city because of the drawing of the boundary lines, if its going to be inclusive of South Baton Rouge than it should include all of South Baton Rouge. The proposed city is gerrymandered. It excludes Gardere but stretches up to encompass Towne Center. Because this is regressive, with all the steps made to make BR the next great city, this move will take the city back 20-30 years. I believe it certainly will make it more difficult to draw more companies and businesses to our city/ If this were to happen, immediately it would cause a huge budget deficit in the city’s current budget forcing cuts in parish-wide services and programs, like police protection and road construction. A study by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber found that the effects of the partition would be economically devastating for the remainder of Baton Rouge, immediately creating a $53 million budget shortfall. Obviously, this would have a negative impact on future economic development projects. Additionally, this would reduce diversity in the East Baton Rouge Parish School system as well as remove much needed funding from a school system already in need. What many people fail to realize is when companies’ look to invest in and move into an area they consider many factors and one factor is the climate of the communities – if the community is closed minded and regressive than they view that as impacted future growth. The concept of One Baton Rouge was formed to foster community and unite growth. Certainly when you look at how the lines are drawn the issue of race and class must come up. The lines are drawn to exclude a segment of the community that is comprised of mostly minorities and families that are economically distressed. Then it gerrymanders up to incorporate a part of the city that is central of the city to harness that income and tax base. At the end of the day this become a lose-lose for us all! Certainly there must be a better way to address some of their concerns without slicing and dicing the community,” said State Rep. Regina Ashford Barrow (District 29)

    Headline: Baton Rouge’s Magnet Schools Threatened by St. George Incorporation – Nola.com

    Fact: East Baton Rouge is able to offer its magnet schools because it is a large district with about 43,000 students, and has the resources and student population to support specialized programs.

    There are about 6,200 East Baton Rouge Parish public school students who live in the St. George area but attend school outside those city limits, according to the group One Community, One School District, which opposes the St. George effort. That includes magnet students and others who would be displaced if a new district is established in St. George.

    Craig Freeman

    Representative Craig Freeman , EBR School Board District 2

    [As] a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, I am against the city of St. George. I know that the System’s retirement liability exceeds $300 Million. I think taking newly built schools while leaving retirement liability creates the potential for disaster for education in the Parish. We are a system that saw 42% of schools improve a letter grade; we cut expenses and increased revenue; we produce the overwhelming portion of national merit and national achievement scholars in the parish; and we have only one failing comprehensive school in the system (less than A-rated systems nearby). Anyone that thinks they should leave the System to create a better system within the parish should spend time in our fantastic schools,” said Craig M. Freeman, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board representative for District 6.

    Representative Edward “Ted” James II ,District 101

    Representative Edward “Ted” James II ,District 101



    I am totally against the division of our city. The racial division will not bring our parish forward and the erosion of tax revenue would affect services for the city. The people behind this movement are blinded by their need to devastate our schools,” said State Representative Edward “Ted” James II (District 101)

     Representative Vereta Lee ,East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 7

    Representative Vereta Lee ,East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 7



    I am against the current proposal to create the City of St. George, because it will affect the quality of education that all of our children are receiving.

    My opposition primarily stems from the fact that this proposal, just like the proposal to create a new school system in the Southeast portion of the parish, unnecessarily divides the residents of the city/parish along the all too familiar lines of race, and class. This is morally wrong!!

    The impact on the City of Baton Rouge will be decidedly negative. Not only will this impact the city’s functions and operations, it will impact our local school system, children, and quality of life,” said District 7 East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Representative Vereta Lee.


    Headline: Richer white people in Greater Baton Rouge seek to secede from poor Black neighbors – Huffington Post

    Fact: After Hurricane Katrina more than 200,000 New Orleans residents – mainly Black – moved to the northern, urban parts of the city. The new city would be 70 % white, compared to Baton Rouge which is 55 % Black.

    The Dec. 1 report also points out the significant income gap between the two populations, concluding that a new city of St. George would be one of the wealthiest in Louisiana:

    Perhaps the most notable difference between the two cities is found in the household income characteristics. The proposed city has a mean household income $30,000 higher than the City of Baton Rouge. More than 60 % of the households in Baton Rouge have incomes below $50,000, while more than 60 % of the households in the new city have incomes above $50,000 … [M]ore than 14,000 households in the City of Baton Rouge receiv[e] SNAP benefits compared to fewer than 3,000 in the proposed new city. One quarter of the households in Baton Rouge receive some kind of Social Security income, while in the proposed city that ratio is one in five.

    Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis , District 6

    Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis , District 6

    “If their only reason for incorporation is for the independent school district, this seems to be a drastic step in getting there by any means necessary.  In my opinion, the incorporation would only serve to further racially divide the city/parish.  Our city already has a great divide north of Florida Blvd. which will only be further exasperated by the incorporation of St. George. The impact will be negative for District 6 and the entire city/parish of Baton Rouge with a huge loss of our current tax base.  There is still much to be learned on the negative impact this effort will have on public safety, the overall structure of city parish government and the overall continued economic growth of our city. This is one to be watched closely,” said Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis (District 6).

    Headline: A Tale of Two Cities from the dailymail.co.uk (The United Kingdom)

    Fact: Leaders of the St. George secession claim they are creating an ‘open city’ and deny it will have any negative impact.

    Leaders of the St. George secession effort deny that racial segregation is the reason behind their plans. They claim the new city will be ‘wide open’ and downplay warnings of fiscal disaster for the rest of the city. But opponents note that city funds were used to develop the retail areas that would end up sucking in sales taxes from residents of the poorer part of the city.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State 

    Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.


    “I am not in favor of any effort by any group that divides Baton Rouge or East Baton Rouge Parish. The effort to create a new city within the parish divides us on many levels. Rarely do we solve our problems through isolation. Divided we fall…we fail. I’ve worked and continue to work to bring people together to find common ground and solutions to improve the quality of life for everyone in the parish,” said Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.

    Fact: Breakaway town would have higher income, lower unemployment, less people on benefits… and a white majority population.

    Here is an estimated comparison of racial makeup between Baton Rouge and St. George, according to figures compiled by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, if the incorporation is successful.


     55 %
     40 %
     3 %
     3 %
    Average income:
    Unemployment rate:
     9.2 per cent
    Receive food stamps:
     17 per cent


    Population: 100,000

    White: 70 %

    Black: 23 %

    Hispanic/Latino: 6 %

    Asian: 4 %

    Average income: $88k

    Unemployment rate: 4.8 %

    Receive food stamps: 7 %


     Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards ,District 5

     “At the end of the day, this issue reminds me of “The Hunger Games” movie as it relates to a few people demanding power, money and control at the expense of the majority who happen to be less fortunate. This started being an education issue and has quickly evolved into a much more complicated set of issues that historically has not produced a good or a godly result.  It is showing all of the ugly sides of humanity and what people are willing to destroy to get their way at the expense of everyone else,” said Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards (District 5)

    Editors’s Note: All elected officials who represent The Drum newspaper’s readers in this area were invited to provide comment for this story. Those officials not included did not respond to email request for comment.

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  • South Louisiana’s Invisible Epidemic


    HIV/AIDS cases in S.E. Louisiana remain among highest in the nation

    Louisiana has long sat at the bottom of statistics for things like overall well-being and education. But, in 2012, Baton Rougeans found themselves, unfortunately, at the top of one of the least ideal statistics in the country. The city was named number one for AIDS cases per capita, with New Orleans following in second.

    In Baton Rouge, there are nearly 5000 diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS.

    Overall, HIV continues to disproportionately affect Blacks in Louisiana. As shown in a 2007 survey, 72% of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 75% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases were among African Americans.

    This year, The Baton Rouge AIDS Society revealed that the capital city now ranks 4th for AIDS case rates among the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, and leads Louisiana in the highest rate of AIDS cases overall. Of these numbers, 31% of new HIV cases and 31% of new AIDS cases in Louisiana are among women – with the number one mode of transmission being heterosexual activities.

    Dr. Joyce Turner Keller is one of those women.

    Keller was diagnosed in 2001 following a car accident, in which she developed a staph infection, requiring medical treatment. She said she believes she contracted the virus in 1995 when she was raped at age 45.

    “I tell people all the time that it doesn’t matter how I got it,” Keller said. “The fact is that I deal with the same side effects, the same discrimination, the same ills and the same rejection that everybody else deals with when they’re dealing with HIV.”


    Keller is a Baton Rouge area bishop. She is also the founder of Aspirations, a non-profit organization serving the needs of hurting people, regardless of race, creed, gender preference, age or social class, infected with or affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. Part of her influence to head up the organization came from an encounter with a pastor, who she said told her matter-of-factly “there’s no AIDS in my church.” Upon disagreeing with the pastor’s statement, Keller reflected on her own past ignorance of the virus.


    “I didn’t think that HIV had anything to do with me before being diagnosed,” Keller said. “I’m a praying woman; I’m a woman of the church; I’m a woman in the ministry; I didn’t smoke; I didn’t drink; I didn’t party and I’ve never been high. I wasn’t into commercial sex; I wasn’t a stripper; I wasn’t gay; I wasn’t white; I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends. So, to me, before I was diagnosed, HIV was a foreign word – it was somebody else.”


    This fall Keller produced a play based upon her encounter with the aforementioned pastor, titled “No AIDS in my Church”.  She said the mission was to make audiences think about the reality of ministers believing that AIDS doesn’t exist in the church and to emphasis that the virus is has many faces.


    “I think it’s imperative that people see HIV looks like them – that every face is the face of HIV,” Keller said. “No matter how many times you look at me, you can’t see HIV, unless I tell it.”


    Now, living a mildly healthy life since her diagnosis, Keller said she takes one pill specifically for HIV and a host of other medications for accompanying ailments. But, most importantly, Keller said she lives right.


    “I eat right, I get plenty of rest and I refuse to get stressed out,” Keller said. “I don’t let other people’s problems become mine. I limit my involvement with outside interference. I don’t allow junk into my spiritual or mental needs – that’s how I stay healthy – that keeps you well.”


    Staying healthy is something that Patrice Melnick knows well. A resident of Grand Coteau, La., she has been living with HIV for nearly 30 years. She was diagnosed at age 26 in 1987, during an emergency medical trip home from Bangassou in the C.A.R, where she served in the Peace Corps for two years. She said she believes she contracted the virus from one of her boyfriends who was native to Africa.


    In 2012, her memoir, Po-Boy Contraband – From Diagnosis Back to Life was published.


    “Writers are looking for a kind of breakthrough,” Melnick said. “I was often writing about other cultures, African, Native American. When one does this, you get into tricky territory, and can be accused of exploitation, though no one ever accused me. Then it occurred to me, I could exploit myself, and my own story with this taboo topic. Writers can be a little warped. In life, sometimes I remove myself from a situation and stop thinking about how the struggle or distress makes me feel and start considering what a provocative story I have to work with.”


    Melnick explained that for many years she felt invisible by not revealing her status to those around her. At the time that she was diagnosed, the disease was almost exclusively associated with gay men and most people who were not gay men assumed they could not get it. She said the stigma was much like that of an individual living outside of a crime ridden area and believing that he/she is immune to criminal activity.


    Melnick said she didn’t believe herself to be at high-risk for HIV.


    Practicing sex only safe enough to prevent birth, Melnick actively took her birth control pills. This was due to the lack of HIV/AIDS awareness and education in the 1980’s. It was the type of ignorance that made Melnick believe that she was a bad person for contracting the virus.


    “Americans, especially religious Americans, like to believe there is a reason for everything,” Melnick said. “Because of taboos about sex, they associate STDs with blame. I think I accepted this at first. But then I thought of things in a broader perspective—most healthy humans are sexually active with great inconsistency regarding use of prophylactics, and it’s not useful to dwell on illusions of blame, guilt and innocence.”


    More than just general response to the virus, other things have changed as well with education and research. Melnick’s once 7 pills daily is now just two pills daily. She said she stays healthy through exercise, balanced diet, quiet time, regular doctor visits and annual check-ups.


    “Initially, I believed I had no hope and I was quick to accept those who believed I did not have long to live,” Melnick said. “In truth, I did not expect to live long.  At first I made short term plans.  Then, nothing happened, so I made longer term plans.  Now here I am concerned about keeping health and life insurance, and retirement.”


    Knowing that HIV is no longer a death sentence is something that International HIV/AIDS activist and humanitarian Hydeia Broadbent, of Nevada wants people to understand. She contracted HIV in the womb through her birth mother’s needle-injected drug addiction.


    She developed full blown AIDS by age three.


    Now 29-years-old, she travels the country in hopes of educating people about the virus. It’s something she has been known for since she was five-years-old.


    “When I go around, I basically try to use my life, as a person living with full blown AIDS, as a cautionary tale, because HIV is 100% preventable,” Broadbent said. “I think a lot of people feel like if they contract HIV, they can take a pill and they’ll be okay. So, I try to go into what the reality of living with AIDS is truly like to encourage people to make wise choices like testing in relationships, practicing safe sex and taking care of their bodies.”


    A typical day for Broadbent used to start with medications, but her insurance policy recently expired citing non renewal due to the Affordable Care Act. Her daily regimen for the past two months, since being dropped off her plan, includes lots of vitamins, exercise and a healthy diet. This is a routine she said she has always abided by, but more cautionary now because of being without medication.


    The total price of her three medications is $3,400 monthly.


    “I try not to stress about [the health insurance],” Broadbent said. “I wonder if I can afford the plans, I wonder if I can get back on a plan, just a lot of uncertainty right now.”


    Broadbent said she was always public about her status, having spent much of childhood in the hospital with other HIV/AIDS infected children; she didn’t know she was different until middle school. Upon the realization that everybody didn’t have AIDS, she began her activism in the 1990’s when the still semi-taboo HIV/AIDS prevention had become popular through people like Ryan White and Magic Johnson.


    It was then that Broadbent realized that while life may be more difficult with AIDS, it is no longer a death sentence.


    “The most important thing is to know your status,” Broadbent said. “If you are HIV negative, do everything in your power to stay negative. If you’re positive, the first thing is to obtain and maintain healthcare. Then it’s just in general, being open with your sexual partner and talk to them about getting tested together and about your expectations in your relationship.”





















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  • Judge Honored By State Bar Association

    Judge Sheva M. Sims, who provides over Division D of Shreveport City Court, was selected to receive a Louisiana State Bar Association Crystal Gavel Award. Judge Sims was recognized for outstanding volunteer efforts with local community groups.

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  • Second Chances

    Second Chances- LaSundra Pitts

    Amite, LA-native LaSundra Pitts’ first novel Second Chances is a fast-paced story perfect for casual, light summer reading while on vacation. Categorized as Christian fiction, Second Chances where the stories of four characters blend with forgiveness, loneliness, and redemption between families and unlikely lovers. BuytheBook.

    Online: www.lasundrapitts.com


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  • Juneteenth

    Juneteenth-Ralph Ellison

    Yes, the Ralph Ellison has a novel on freedom, published posthumously in 1999. A fascinating tale of the attempted assassination of Senator Bliss Sunraider who passes for white and reeks havoc on the Black constituents who reared him as a young man. On his death bed, he calls for the man who loved him most, his adopted father and biological uncle the Rev. AZ Hickman, an old Black preacher. Hidden within the story line is the celebration that freedom comes only when Whites recognize that their freedom is tied to the freedom of Blacks. Wonderfully written as only Ellison can. BuytheBook.

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  • A New White House Report Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill


    This week, the White House released a new report showing the critical need for Congressional passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. This comprehensive report highlights how the thriving business of agriculture is a cornerstone of America’s economy, creating jobs and boosting opportunity.

    Agricultural production and its related sectors contributed $743 billion to U.S. GDP in 2011, accounting for nearly 5 percent of economic output. Today about one out of every 12 jobs in the United States are connected in some way to agriculture.

    Meanwhile, driven by the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, agricultural exports reached their highest mark ever in 2013 at more than $140 billion. Due in part to trade promotion programs in the Farm Bill, the five-year period from 2009-2013 is the strongest in history for agricultural exports. Compared to the previous five-year period, the U.S. is exporting an average of four million tons more bulk commodities each year. These exports alone support more than a million jobs.

    A new Farm Bill would give producers the tools they need to continue fueling agriculture to new heights, while promoting quality U.S. products abroad. Ultimately, as shown in this week’s report, those efforts have a positive impact across our entire economy.

    At the same time, the White House report notes continuing economic challenges in rural areas that would be addressed, in part, by investments in the new Farm Bill.  Eighty-five percent of persistent poverty counties in America—counties where poverty has been high for decades—are in rural areas. And between 2010 and 2012, rural America actually lost population.

    A new Farm Bill would provide needed investment in rural infrastructure that would create jobs and boost quality of life in rural America.  It would invest in the growing biobased economy that holds a promising future for our small towns – both through the creation of clean, renewable energy and the manufacture of advanced biobased products. It would strengthen conservation activities on America’s farms and ranches that expand opportunity for outdoor recreation and help to boost income in rural communities. All of these activities would help to revitalize rural areas.

    And a new Farm Bill would provide critical nutrition assistance for American families who are working hard but struggling to make ends meet.

    For more than two years, the Obama Administration has advocated for passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.  This week’s report is just another reminder: Americans can’t be left without a Farm Bill any longer. The stakes for our national economy, our agricultural production, and our rural communities are simply too high for inaction – and Congress should finish its work on the Farm Bill without delay.


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